Window Safety and Preventing Falls

Question of the Week

Windows are often an overlooked part of childproofing.
Falls from windows are not uncommon.. Photo by Littlebird Pictures/Getty Images

Q. I am looking for a way to secure my third-floor windows to prevent an accidental fall. Window guards look like the best option but are so much more expensive than window locks or wedges. Am I covering all the bases if I go with the cheaper option? Basically, I don't want to cheap out on my kids' safety, but I don't want to spend unnecessary money either. Tricia, Calgary, Alberta

A. Preventing falls from windows is important, especially since the Consumer Product Safety Commission states that, in the United States, 'about 12 children 10 years old and younger die each year, and more than 4,000 are treated in hospital emergency rooms for window fall-related injuries.

CPSC knows of 120 window-fall related deaths to children since 1990.'

Similarly, a study in Pediatrics, "Pediatric Injuries Attributable to Falls From Windows in the United States in 1990–2008," concluded that falls from windows "are an important pediatric public health problem, and increased prevention efforts are needed, including development and evaluation of innovative prevention programs."

Childproofing your Windows

Fortunately, you have options to prevent accidental falls from windows, including:

  • a window guard or gate - bars that are installed on the bottom part of a window to keep a child from falling out when the window is open.
  • a window stop or wedge - window opening control devices that prevent a window from opening more than 4 inches.

The main downside to using a window stop or wedge is that you will have to leave the windows mostly shut.

A window guard or gate offers the added benefit that you can open the windows and still not have to worry about your child falling through them.

Many window guards have emergency release buttons so that they can be quickly removed in case of a fire.

Or consider some combination of the two childproofing methods, installing window guards on a few windows that you often open for ventilation, and locks or wedges on the others windows that you usually keep closed.

Window Safety to Prevent Falls

To keep your children safe, in addition childproofing your windows, you should also:

  • not allow your children to play around windows, even if they are closed since they can be hurt if they fall through the glass of a closed window
  • not rely on screens to keep your kids from falling - kids often push out screens on their way out the window
  • install windows that can open from the top, instead of the bottom, if possible
  • keep furniture away from windows, so that your children aren't tempted to climb on them
  • remember that even falls from one story windows can cause injuries
  • consider installing landscaping under windows that might cushion a fall
  • use non-corded window blinds to prevent strangulation hazards

Also keep in mind that if you are installing a window guard, if you are below the 6th floor, you should install one that can be easily opened by adults and older children in case of a fire. Otherwise, if you were on the 7th floor or above, you could install a permanent window guard.


Harris, Vaughn. Pediatric Injuries Attributable to Falls From Windows in the United States in 1990–2008. Pediatrics 2011;128:455–462

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