The Real Risk of Children and Young Adults Falling out of Windows
November 11, 2017
The parents of an 18-year-old student are demanding more stringent safety measures in colleges across the United States after their son suffered serious injuries from accidentally falling out of his second-story dormitory window at Washington State University (WSU). Younger children also face serious risks of falling: according to Safe Kids Worldwide (SKW), 3,300 children under 5-years-old will be seriously injured and require medical attention from falling out of a window every year, and at least 8 others will die.
Parents or caregivers can take an array of safety measures to protect kids from falling out of windows. The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) recommends installing security bars, guards, grilles or grates that have been approved by local fire departments or building code officials. To check out some of the AAMA’s other window safety tips, please visit: https://www.aamanet.org/upload/file/Window_Safety_List.pdf.
One way to combat window safety failures in college institutions is for administrators and safety experts to determine how dorms, fraternities and sororities can be made safer, limiting the overall fall risk to students. This isn’t the first time a student has been injured or killed after this type of fall at WSU or any other university; in fact, these types of falls often result in fatalities or serious physical injury.
When ABC News did an investigation on this very topic in the past, the news organization determined that approximately 31-college students die from these kinds of falls every year.
Another major issue is that students sometimes have roof or balcony access in university buildings. When a person drinks, their reflexes and inhibitions are lowered – and this is why it is critical to have a designated sober individual present. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), nearly 60% of all college students report drinking within the last month, and 2 out of 3 report engaging in binge drinking, or having 4-5 (or more) drinks in a period of 2 hours. College administrators should take extra precautions to protect against these accidents by launching educational and awareness campaigns to make the serious risks known to students and adequately measure building risks.
Far too many young people sustain injuries – sometimes fatally – from falling out of windows. The National Safety Council (NSC) created the Window Safety Task Force back in 1997 to fight these hazards, and offers some general safety tips that are aimed at parents and caregivers in particular:
- Keep furniture away from windows so that children cannot climb and fall out;
- Always supervise children near or around/windows – and set up a play area apart from them;
- Make sure windows are closed and locked when children are present;
- Remember that screens do NOT act as protective barriers;
- If you have a double-hung window, open the top and keep the bottom closed;
- Keep children away from jumping on beds or furniture, because this can increase their chances of accidentally falling from a window, and:
- Always use ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) approved limited opening hardware – this keeps windows from opening more than a few inches wide
However, some of these tips can relate to window safety on college campuses as well. Making sure that windows are locked, remembering that screens do not prevent falls and avoiding all types of roughhousing around windows are all ways to inhibit hazards. Another step that administrative offices can take to fight this danger is to hire safety consultants, who are able to come up with effective risk-management plans.
Both parents and college administrators should consider installing something known as “strategic landscaping”, or a type of landscaping that can limit the severity of injuries. There are many types of environmental “padding” that can be used, such as wood chips, shrubs and/or grasses. The AAMA suggests that collegtes install these under window spaces to protect individuals during a fall.
We need to remember that although precautions should be taken with children of all ages, children under 5-years-old and college students are at an especially high risk for these types of falls. For younger kids, remember that supervision and opening your windows from the top instead of the bottom as often as possible can make the difference in saving a life. You should also discuss all of these risks with soon-to-be or current college students.
If you have any other questions or concerns about the safety of the windows in your home, on a college campus or in regard to any serious injury that occurred, please contact our firm directly.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Representing Injured Individuals Since 1947
If your child sustained serious or fatal injuries as a result of falling out of a window, please contact our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Reading, and Lancaster, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call Galfand Berger at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.