Articles Posted in Window Falls

The news last week that a 3-year-old Beaverton girl was in critical condition after falling from a 2nd floor window is the most tragic sort of reminder of the importance of window safety. As I have written on several previous occasions, when children die or are injured in window falls the incidents are especially sad because they are so easily preventable.

According to television station KATU emergency services crews responded to reports of the fall and found that the girl had landed on a concrete surface below the window. She was taken to the Oregon Health and Science University Hospital (OSHU).

This summer, as it has for several years, SafeKids Oregon is promoting a campaign called ‘Stop at 4’ (see link below). The name refers to the maximum distance – 4 inches – that windows should be allowed to open in any place where children are, or even might be, present. The campaign also encourages the installation of safety bars on windows.

With spring well under way and summer around the corner it is time again for me to remind readers of the importance of window safety and the crucial work done by SafeKids Oregon.

Earlier this month the country marked National Window Safety Week. As SafeKids noted at the time: “windows rank as one of the top five hidden hazards in the home, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.” The good news is that, the group notes, educational efforts do seem to be having an effect: across Oregon “the number of children falling from windows and being admitted to the trauma system (dropped) from a high of 52 children in 2010 to 26 children in 2015.”

While that progress is excellent, more still needs to be done. As SafeKids notes: “Window falls are a preventable cause of injury and death to young children” and the basic ways of stopping them are simple. Parents should remember to keep windows closed and locked when they are not in use, to make sure that children play a safe distance away from open windows and, most importantly, to “stop at 4” – meaning to ensure that open windows are limited to a four inch gap and held in place by window guards (to prevent children from opening them further). Another important tip: if a window can be opened from both the top and the bottom secure the bottom closed and open it only from the top.

With the arrival of summer it is time, once again, to remind every parent (and older sibling) out there of the importance of protecting children from window falls. These tragedies are among the most easily preventable Oregon injuries to children.

The issue is back in the news after two incidents in recent weeks here in Oregon, one of them fatal. Earlier this month a four-year-old North Portland boy died after falling from a 3rd floor window, according to television station KOIN. The station also reports that a Beaverton girl was seriously injured in April after a fall from a second floor window.

As the station notes, “statistics show more than 3000 children under the age of 6 fall from windows every year.” It might have added that window fall incidents regularly rise each summer – making the timing of the station’s report particularly important. What makes these incidents especially heart-breaking is how easily preventable they are. It starts, of course, with education – reminding adults as well as kids that screen windows, which are designed to keep bugs out, are never strong enough to prevent even a relatively small child from falling, and reminding parents that children – small ones especially – need to be watched carefully, and should never be left alone in a room with an unlocked window, let alone an open one.

Here in Oregon the Memorial Day holiday weekend began with an incident that is a sad reminder of one of summer’s perils: Oregon injuries to children resulting from window falls. According to The Oregonian “a four-year-old Oregon City girl was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries on Saturday after falling out of a third story window.”

Citing Clackamas fire district officials the newspaper reports that the girl is in good condition, but with the weather warming up this is a sad reminder of the danger window falls can pose to children during the summer months. Regular readers will recall that the Portland area experienced a spate of window falls last year during late June and early July. Hopefully this summer will not see a repeat of these easily preventable accidents.

As a Portland child injury attorney I have long supported, and used this blog to help publicize, SafeKids Oregon’s “Stop at 4” campaign (see link below or this post from last April). As SafeKids Oregon notes, nationwide approximately 3300 children under the age of six fall from windows every year. Many of these falls are from the second or third floor and while we can all be relieved that the Oregon City girl is now described as being in good condition it is also useful to take a moment to remember some of the key facts connected to window falls.

Today marks the start of National Window Safety Week (April 7-13). With the seasons changing, and warmer weather settling in, that makes this an especially opportune moment to remind parents of simple but important ways to avoid tragic Oregon injuries to children during the coming months.

Here in Portland this is not an abstract issue. As a recent article in The Oregonian noted, “during one terrible week last June, four children in the Portland area were injured when they plunged through windows to the ground.” I wrote about several of these incidents at the time – see here and here – and salute the work SafeKids Oregon (where I serve as a member of the Advisory Board), the Oregon Public Health Division and Randall Children’s Hospital are doing to raise public awareness of this issue all the year round, but during this week in particular.

The centerpiece of the Window Safety Week campaign is the ‘Stop at 4 inches’ initiative which reminds parents of the importance of keeping small children out of danger by using window stops. As part of the awareness activities taking place this week Randall Children’s Hospital is making window stops and other home child safety gear available through its Hospital Safety Center. On the Washington side of the Columbia River the video blog Vancouver Side has produced a set of helpful videos on window safety to mark this week. You can see them here.

This is not the first time this summer that I have written about the danger of window falls. With the news, however, that another Oregon child has been injured falling from a window it is important to reemphasize the subject. As a recent article in The Oregonian notes, the latest incident “marked the fourth time a young child had fallen

The most recent incident took place in Portland and was serious enough that a LifeFlight helicopter was required to get the young victim to a hospital for emergency treatment. The Oregonian reports that the child, who is only five years old, was “critically injured.”

“It appears he opened the window by himself and somehow fell out,” a Portland Fire Bureau spokesman told the paper. Coming as this does at a moment when SafeKids Oregon’s ‘Stop at 4’ campaign is in full swing, this is a timely reminder of the window safety precautions that are essential for almost anyone – but especially for people who will have small children in their homes at any point this summer.

I have written in the past about the importance of window safety. Too many people forget at this time of year that screens are designed to keep bugs out, not to keep children in, and fail to take essential precautions.

This reminder is prompted by a recent report in The Oregonian about a Cedar Mill toddler who “was taken to a local hospital after she punched through a screen and fell from a second-storey window.” Even more frighteningly: “the girl reportedly fell from the window and first landed on a slanted roof. She then rolled off the roof and hit a mix of pavement and bark dust” the paper adds citing local Tualatin Valley first responders.

The child was taken to an area hospital and her injuries are reported not to be life-threatening.