Falls from open windows

Now summer is here, windows are left open in the hope of catching a breeze – and reports are reaching CAPT of small children falling from upstairs windows, frequently needing specialist hospital care for significant head injuries.

Parents and frontline staff often see such falls as ‘freak’ accidents but the statistics belie that view. In fact, nationally, one child under five is admitted to hospital every day after falling from a building – often from open windows but also from balconies.

Pre-school children are particularly susceptible to falls from a height:

  • They are curious and want to see what’s happening outside but have no real understanding of danger.
  • They can take parents and carers by surprise by a sudden breakthrough in their development.
  • Their heads are proportionally bigger than adults’, so they have a different centre of gravity. This means that, if they lean out of a window, they may topple out, and when they land, their head takes much of the impact.

Using routine contacts

It is helpful for frontline staff, for example in health visiting services and early years settings, to use their routine contacts with parents of small children to warn them about the risks and offer practical safety advice.

Public Health England’s new guide for practitioners working with families of under-fives, developed in association with CAPT, offers general advice on preventing falls – see page 6. This includes:

  • Supervising children and teaching them where not to climb.
  • Using window locks and restricting access to balconies.
  • Ensuring nothing helps children climb to windows or from balconies.

Educational resources

CAPT’s How safe am I from a serious fall? flyer provides a colourful, easy-to-read reminder of key safety messages, reinforcing advice delivered by practitioners. Just £7.45 plus P&P for 50 copies.

CAPT’s Look who’s falling DVD resource pack, just £21.50 plus P&P, offers ready-made educational sessions to deliver to parents and carers, with:

  • Three films – one focusing on falls from windows.
  • Support cards with useful facts and figures, links to child development, safety messages, advice on safety equipment and suggestions for group discussions.
  • 50 copies of the flyer.

If your local area is raising awareness on reducing falls from windows, or has a home safety equipment scheme fitting window locks, please let us know so we can feature your work in an upcoming issue of the bulletin. Contact: ian.evans@capt.org.uk

Updated July 2017