Open windows: Warmer weather means new safety concern for kids

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SEATTLE -- Every year when the weather warms up in Western Washington, first responders start getting calls: a child has fallen out of a window.

Depending on how high the window is, that can result in anything from a couple of bumps and scratches to a frantic ride to the hospital. In the worst cases, this kind of fall can be deadly.

"While the idea of airing your house out is great, there is a potential danger to children."

Captain Kyle Ohashi of The Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority says as of April 10th - he's already heard several calls of children falling out of windows.

A simple locking device will stop windows from opening more than about four inches, which could be life-saving when it comes to curious kids trying to get a glimpse of what's going on outside.

"Remember that screens on windows are meant to keep bugs out, not kids in," says Ohashi.   "A lot of people depend on those screens on windows to protect their kids,  and it doesn't take much pressure from the inside to push those screens out."

Even though fresh air and sunshine are great for kids (and adults, too!) Ohashi says furniture - especially beds, cribs, and playpens - should never be placed near windows - because there's a risk that kids will be able to boost themselves to the window sill and tumble out.  You should also fight the temptation to decorate with sun catchers, wind chimes, and window stickers, because those will all draw young children closer to the windows.

Finally, if you have the space, Ohashi says you could consider setting up a daybed on a lower floor, where it's easier to keep an eye on napping kids - and less dangerous for them to be near windows.

"Maybe at night they do sleep upstairs, and then you can ensure that they're going to be safe; but maybe while they're taking a nap during the day you keep them downstairs, where you typically are going to be. You can check on them more often, and in the event that something does happen, and they do fall out the window, there's a much greater chance that they're going to fall out of that window safely."

You can find more safety tips here and here for protecting your children no matter where you are.

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