Doctors issue window fall warning
Concerned with a spiraling number of preventable injuries and deaths of young children falling from unit and house windows, as summer approaches CareFlight doctors have issued a timely warning to parents.
An unfortunate reality is that a child falls from a window or balcony every week in Australia.
CareFlight trauma teams recently have flown to two children injured in balcony falls in a matter of days, at Umina on the Central Coast and Smithfield in Sydney’s west.
CareFlight Chief Medical Officer, Dr Alan Garner, said these deaths, injuries and permanent disfigurements are entirely preventable.
“Half the cases involve furniture near windows. Many of the rest involve flyscreens giving way,” Dr Garner said.
“Our doctors say some simple precautions - such as ensuring windows are never left open more than 10cm, moving furniture that can be used to climb, and not relying on flyscreens for security as they can give way - can save a life.
“This Christmas and beyond, make sure you and your family are safe.
“Let’s prevent lives being lost and a child’s future being damaged forever. Check your windows for safety. Be aware; take care.”
This summer, please heed the warning of CareFlight doctors so prevent children falling from windows.
CareFlight doctors prepare to fly an injured three-year-old boy to hospital from Umina Beach after he fell head-first onto concrete at the weekend.
10 SAFETY TIPS
1. Do not open windows more than 10cm when located above the ground floor.
2. Have window latches/locks fitted to stop windows opening more than 10cm, or guard to protect the opening.
3. Keep beds and other material away from windows so children cannot use them to climb up to windows.
4. Never rely on flyscreens to prevent a child falling out of a window.
5. Always supervise children around open windows.
1. The vertical rails on balconies should be at least one metre high.
2. There should be no horizontal or near horizontal parts that could allow children to climb.
3. Check decks or balconies for decaying timber, unstable railings, corrosion or cracking concrete.
4. All furniture, pot plants and other climbable objects should be away from the edge of balconies.
5. Be aware of furniture that is light enough for children to drag to the edge of a balcony.
CAMERON'S FALL LEGACY
Like most parents, they taught Cameron from an early age to keep away from boiling pots and pans, swimming pools and roads.
What Cameron’s mum Elizabeth didn’t expect was that her son’s life would be threatened; by something she walked past every day … and that it would leave him with permanent injury.
Elizabeth has lent her support to CareFlight’s window warning alert because it happened, without warning, to toddler Cameron.
When she realised the room had gone quiet, Elizabeth knew something was wrong. She ran to where Cameron had been playing with his toys, like any other toddler, in his room on the first floor and found the window open with Cameron lying on the concrete below and moaning.
Ambulance paramedics arrived and started treatment, supported by a CareFlight trauma team, because Cameron had suffered a severe head injury in addition to seven fractured ribs and a collar bone, facial, eye and chest injuries.
Concerned about the brain injury, the CareFlight doctor placed the toddler in an induced coma as part of stabilisation before flying him to the specialist children’s hospital to undergo urgent neurosurgery.
Elizabeth says her son still suffers from the effects of the fall, with ongoing behavioural issues and an eye in which his pupil can’t dilate so he has difficulty seeing in low light.
“The quick start of expert treatment by CareFlight protected Cameron from secondary injury from the brain haemorrhage which could have left him completely disabled,” Elizabeth said.
“It’s frightening every time I hear about another child falling out of a window … so please check your windows and remember that a flyscreen alone is not safe enough.”
For more information contact CareFlight duty media officer on 02 9687 1111.
CareFlight: the next life we save could be yours.