Westmead Childrens Hospital - Kids Don't Fly
Window and Balcony Safety for Children
An increasing number of children are admitted to hospital each year, with serious injuries, as a result of falling from windows and balconies. These falls often occur in the child's own home, over the warmer months when families leave windows and doors to balconies open both during the day and at night. Children aged from one to five years are most at risk as they are naturally curious but lack the ability to recognise danger.
Although the current Building Code of Australia permits a maximum opening of 12.5cm for windows and balustrades (where regulated), The Children's Hospital at Westmead recommends for enhanced safety, a maximum opening of 10cm. Please note, there are no laws that require window and balustrade openings in older buildings to meet current building standards.
To increase the safety of your children near windows and on balconies, please follow our recommendations below.
Window Safety for Children
Children can fall out of a window which is open more than 10cm, even if a fly screen is present.
To prevent children falling from your windows, The Children's Hospital at Westmead recommends:
- All windows above the ground floor to be opened no more than 10cm.
- All windows have window locks/latches fitted to stop windows opening more than 10cm, or guards to protect the opening (see Kids Can't Fly Window Safety Product Guide).
- Where possible, open windows from the top.
- Beds and other furniture are kept away from windows, so that children cannot climb up to windows.
- Parents do not rely on flyscreens to prevent a child from falling out of a window.
- Children are taught to play away from windows.
- Children are always supervised.
Balcony Safety for Children
To prevent children falling from your balcony, The Children's Hospital at Westmead recommends:
- Balcony balustrades (railings) be at least 1metre high.
- Make sure that any vertical bars in the balustrade are no more than 10cm apart (use a ruler to measure).
- Your balustrade should have no horizontal or near horizontal parts that would allow children to climb.
- All furniture, pot plants and other climbable objects are kept away from the edge of the balcony.
- Parents be aware of furniture that is light enough for children to drag to the balcony edge.
- Children are always supervised.
- Keep doors leading to balconies closed so that children cannot gain access to them.
For further information on how to make windows and balconies safe, please read our safety factsheets linked below.
Working Party for the Prevention of Children Falling from Residential Buildings
In 2008, The Children's Hospital at Westmead (CHW) identified falls from residential buildings as an increasing cause of injury, often associated with serious and fatal injuries as revealed by the number of injuries with a high Injury Severity Score. As a result, the Centre for Trauma Care, Prevention, Education and Research at CHW, together with the Kids Health Promotion Unit at CHW, established the 'Working Party for the Prevention of Children Falling from Residential Buildings'. The full Outcomes Report from the working group and a summary are available via the links below.
Brochures & Poster
- Kids Don't Fly Window & Balcony Safety A5
- Kids Don't Fly Window & Balcony Safety Checklist
- Kids Don't Fly Window Safety Product Guide
- Kids Don't Fly Poster A2.pdf
- KIds Can't Fly resources order form
Links to Further Information