Each spring in Calgary and in Canada, children fall from windows at home. These accidents often result in a 911 call and sometimes hospital admission.
Keep children safe
Working in partnership with a local pediatrician and the National Research Council (NRC), we are requesting changes to the National Building Code. We propose that second storey windows of a new home should have either:
- a device to restrict the opening, or;
- the openable portion must be at least 900mm (almost three feet) above the finished floor.
The NRC will make a final decision in May 2019.
The building code would still require a bedroom egress window for emergencies. In our proposed changes, a second storey window (or higher) can open unrestricted if the window sill is at least 900mm (about 3 feet) above the floor.
What you can do in existing homes
- Keep windows out of reach. Move furniture such as cribs, beds, stools, and change tables away from windows.
- Teach children never to lean against windows or open screens. It takes very little force to push through an open screen.
- Consider installing window opening control devices. They restrict the window opening to four inches. Another option is a device that is like a baby gate for a window.
- If you are using safety devices in a bedroom window, an adult must be able to quickly remove or disable these devices in an emergency.
Window screens do not prevent falls.
Window falls happen regularly and cause serious damage
- In 2016, 175 Alberta children were brought to an emergency department with fall-related injuries from windows and balconies. Twenty were admitted to hospital.
- In 2016, 23 per cent of major trauma patients at Alberta Children’s Hospital (Calgary) were injured in a fall; 56 per cent were from second floor windows or higher.
- In Alberta, 28 per cent of children who visit the emergency room after falling from a multi-storey window are admitted and treated for:
- Skull fractures and brain injuries
- Cervical spine factures
- Facial and long bone fractures
- Spleen or liver lacerations
- In Canada, 420 children up to nine years old visit the emergency room after a window fall, and 84 require hospitalization.