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 often see falls from windows 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.

Why are pre-school children at particular risk?

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 by surprise by a sudden breakthrough in their development. You think they don’t climb but, before you know it, they can clamber up on furniture or haul their toy box across the floor and open a window. And accidents can happen very quickly, when your back is turned or you’re distracted for a minute.
  • Small children are built differently to adults – their heads are proportionally much bigger than ours, 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.

Practical safety advice

We recommend that you fit window catches, locks or restrictors to stop your windows opening too wide. Katrina Phillips, CAPT’s Chief Executive, says:

“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.”

If you can, move furniture away from windows to make it harder for small children to climb up. You can also start teaching them where not to climb – though they may forget if there’s something interesting outside they really want to see.

Sharing our safety messages

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  • If you work with parents of small children, please warn them about the risks of falls from windows and offer practical safety advice. The resources below can help you.

Useful resources if you work with parents

Our How safe am I from a serious fall? flyer provides a colourful, easy-to-read reminder of key safety messages. Just £7.45 plus P&P for 50 copies.

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

  • Three short films with child’s eye reconstructions of real-life stories and commentary from a leading doctor – including one film focusing on falls from windows.
  • A facilitator’s handbook with safety advice, facts and figures plus discussion tips and activity ideas to help bring your sessions alive.
  • 50 copies of our falls flyer.

“The ‘child’s eye view’ is terrifying and makes your heart jump. It is very dramatic yet true to life and very powerful.”

“It makes you stop and think to go out and get window locks.”