Falls from windows – how to prevent accidents

Many homeowners open upstairs windows to let in air during the hot summer months, but serious injuries and fatalities have occurred when children have fallen from or through windows.

Thankfully cases such as these are rare, but ten children are killed every year due to a fall in the home, the majority of which occur on the stairs and some from windows and balconies. Under-fives are most at risk with falls accounting for 44% of home accidents involving children in this age group.

The worst injuries, usually head injuries, are sustained when a child falls from a great height or lands on something hard, sharp or hot.

Pre-school children, under 5s, are at most risk from this type of fall. Katrina Phillips, chief executive at the Child Accident Prevention Trust recommends fitting window catches, locks or restrictors to stop your windows opening too wide.

She said: “Safety equipment like this takes the pressure off you. It’s often easy to fit and you can find safety catches for all types of windows, including metal window frames and double glazing.

“But remember, if you opt for window catches with a lock, keep the keys somewhere an adult can easily find them, in case there’s a fire and you need to get out.”

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) offers similar recommendations. It says that windows that are large enough to allow people to fall out should be restrained sufficiently to prevent such falls. The opening should be restricted to 100 mm or less and window restrictors should only be able to be disengaged using a special tool or key.

Top tips for preventing falls from windows

  • Fit child-resistant window restrictors. This allows windows to open enough to allow fresh air in, but not children out.
  • Do not put anything under the window that can be climbed on. Never place furniture near windows, especially in bedrooms.
  • Secure furniture and kitchen appliances. This prevents children from pulling items over to the window. It’s surprising what can be used as a ladder.