Window Falls Are a Hidden Household Danger Most Parents Miss

Window Falls Are a Hidden Household Danger Most Parents Miss

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Window locks are a simple fix that can deter curious children.

A few weeks shy of turning 5, Evan and his 7-year-old brother shouted out to neighbor kids from an open upstairs window in their home on a Hawaii naval base. The insect screen gave way, and Evan fell two stories. He died two days later from his injuries.

Tragedy Sparks Law Change

Evan’s parents were reluctant to hold the contractor and government responsible in court. Still, they felt it was the only way to protect other children and their parents from the same agony they experienced. Their bravery and willingness to tell Evan’s story sparked a national movement by safety advocates and lawmakers to change state and federal laws and require stronger window screen protections.

Evan’s Law, introduced in 2017, mandated window safety devices in privatized military homes. The Law was strengthened two years later, expanding the safety requirement to windows within 42 inches of the floor and establishing a Defense Department grant program for privatized housing companies to retrofit existing homes.

But There’s Still Work to Do

While Evan’s story inspired national awareness and a movement to prevent window falls, Evan’s Law only extends to military housing. Every year, thousands of children continue to suffer injuries from household windows. Yet, 70 percent of parents say they have never installed any window safety protections. All of this means that thousands of children are still at risk.

Of course, parents want a home environment where young children are free to be creative and explore. Here are a few simple precautions to protect curious kids from window falls:

  • Install window guards and stops. Open windows are vital to good health and safety but can be a serious fall risk. Installing window guards and stops (with an emergency release in case of fire) prevents a child from falling. Don’t rely on insect screens – screens are meant to keep bugs out, not children in.
  • Open windows from the top if possible, and lock them when unused. Kids may have enough strength to open the window as they grow, so keep it locked and closed when not in use.
  • Enjoy playtime elsewhere. Keep the fun away from windows, balconies, or patio doors.
  • Place furniture away from windows. Don’t put beds, cribs, chairs, or anything else beside windows children might use to climb onto window sills.
  • Talk to your kids. Discuss window safety with your children when they are old enough to understand the dangers.
Finally, note that windows are just one of many home hazards not typically on the safety radar of parents. Use this guide from Safe Kids Worldwide to make your entire house kid-safe, top to bottom!

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