Window and Balcony Safety for Children

An alarming number of children present to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead each year as a result of falling from windows and Balcony. Children may fall out of a window which is open more than 10cm, even if a fly screen is present.

How common are these injuries?

Over the past 10 years there have been 91 children admitted to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead after falling from windows. Almost all of these children fell from a window in their own home.

During the period 1998-2008, 78 children were admitted to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. A significant number of these injuries were rated with a high injury severity score (ISS).  Injuries from falls, even from very low heights, can be serious; “40 percent of fatal falls, among children under 15 years of age in Australia, were from heights less than 3 feet (91.44cm)” Culvenor, Dr J. (2002)

Over the past five years:

  • 4 out of 5 children admitted to hospital because of a fall from a window were under 5 years;
  • 80% had fallen more than two metres;
  • 80% had significant/severe injuries;
  • 3 out of 5 cases admitted to hospital were boys;
  • About half of the cases were associated with furniture near the window.

How may a child be injured?

Children may fall out of windows if they are able to climb on furniture to reach the window or if they are jumping or playing on a bed near an open window.

Injuries resulting from children falling from windows or balconies range from cuts and bruises to head injuries, broken limbs and even death.

Is there a Law or an Australian Standard to prevent window falls?

There are no laws or Australian Standards to require domestic windows to be lockable to prevent falls.

Window Safety for Children

Please keep in mind the safety reminders below:

  • Teach your child to play away from windows.
  • Do not rely on fly screens to protect a child from falling out of a window.
  • Keep furniture away from windows, so that children can not climb up to windows using furniture.
  • Supervise your children.
  • Install window locks or guards to stop windows from opening more than 10cm.

Balcony Safety for Children

To prevent children falling from your balcony:

  • Balcony balustrades should be at least 1 metre high.
  • Gaps between balcony uprights be no more than 12.5cm wide.
  • Ensure posts are vertical so that they can not be used as a ladder to climb over the balustrade.
  • 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 should always supervised.

Source: The Children’s Hospital, Westmead.