Window Safety Know-How

Think you've got all the child-proofing bases covered? Here's what you need to know about window safety smarts.

Kids fall down a lot '- it's an unavoidable part of childhood. Going kaput when learning to walk is usually not a big deal. Falling from a height, however, can be devastating or even fatal. Every year, nearly 5,000 kids fall out of windows in the United States, according to Safe Kids. Most of these are children under age five, and one out of three requires a hospital stay as a result of the fall. Dozens of children die this way each year. Here's what you need to develop a savvy -- and lifesaving -- window safety strategy.

Get the right guard
Every window above the first floor should be equipped with not just any window guard, but one with an emergency release in case of fire. Proper window guards were shown to reduce fatal falls by up to 35 percent in a pilot program in New York City.

Ordinary window screens '- designed to keep insects out, not children in '- are no substitute. They are not safety devices. In a high-rise apartment building, quick-release window guards are as essential to your children's safety as smoke alarms.

Fix your furniture
So how does your overactive, under-three-feet-tall tot reach those windows anyway? By climbing up that strategically placed sofa. It may be optimal for primetime TV-viewing, but it's not for window safety. Move couches, chairs and other climbing-friendly furniture far enough away from windows so your children can't climb to the ledge.

Make windows less enticing in the first place by tying blind cords and curtain pulls out of reach '- good precautions anyway, because kids can be strangled by playing with hanging cords. Lock any windows that aren't open, but remember that a growing and curious preschooler may have enough strength and dexterity to unlock and open it. Don't assume a closed window is childproof.

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