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That’s 14 kids a day falling from windows

August 23, 2011

Parents use devices to prevent kids from lapping up toilet water and creeping into the oven. They attach molded hunks of foam to soften a kitchen table’s pointy edges and install outlet protectors to keep children from inadvisably mixing with electric currents. But not enough parents are taking appropriate precautions when it comes to windows.

New research finds that nearly 5,200 kids are treated in an emergency department each year after falling from a window. That’s 14 kids a day, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

“These are serious injuries and they’re still common despite the fact that we have seen a decline,” says Gary Smith, the paper’s senior author and director of the Center for Injury, Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Typical hospital admission rates for childhood injuries stand at 5%, but 25% of window-related injuries wind up requiring care in the hospital, for pretty obvious reasons: a fall from a window can be deadly, as guitarist Eric Clapton learned in 1991 when his 4-year-old son fell from the 53rd story of a Manhattan condominium, which was apparently exempted from the city’s window-guard regulations.

New York City landlords are required to install the guards, which resemble horizontal jail bars and cover the bottom half of a window to form a barrier that prevents kids from crawling out. Current models, which are often available at hardware stores, are designed to be easily disengaged by an adult, such as a firefighter, in the event of an emergency.

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