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Window Safety Awareness Week Helps Prevent Injuries and Death From Window Falls

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  As the weather becomes warmer, people often open their windows to let in the fresh air. However, this can be very dangerous for preschool aged children.

One Des Moines family is using the death of their child to bring awareness to a sometimes-overlooked home safety feature.

The Hannah Geneser Foundation was created seven years ago when four-year-old Hannah passed away after falling through a window. April 2nd - April 6th marks the annual Window Safety Awareness Week to spread the word about making window safety a part of child-proofing your home.

The Hannah Genser Foundation has a checklist of items that would make windows safe:

  • Keep windows closed and locked when they are not being used.
  • Do not nail windows shut; nails do a great job of keeping windows closed but they do not allow residents to quickly escape if there is a fire.
  • Keep beds and furniture away from windows so children cannot climb to the ledge or fall through while jumping or playing on the bed.
  • Do not rely on window screens to prevent falls. Heavy duty safety screens are now in production and can be installed in homes to prevent falls.
  • Install window guards or window stops that are ASTM-approved.
  • If you have double-hung windows, the kind that open from the top as well as the bottom, open them from the top rather than the bottom.
  • Supervise children around open windows and teach them to play a safe distance from windows.

Injury Prevention Project Coordinator at Blank Children’s Hospital Janna Day said in about 80% of window falls, a screen was in place.

"Oftentimes we think when a screen is in place, it’s kind of a safeguard and a child is not going to be able to fall through the window, but really what happens is just a few pounds of pressure is put onto that window screen and a child can go out. Window screens are really designed to keep bugs out, they are not designed to keep kids in," she said.

Day said in the U.S., window falls account for around 12 deaths and 5,000 injuries a year to children ages 10 and under.

"We’re seeing the falls happen in the preschool age, where they are not quite tall enough to look out a window so maybe they’re climbing on top of something to see. They’re kind of the age where they are very curious but maybe aren’t able to see yet the danger of what could happen.”