The NSW Department of Health is undertaking a massive campaign to prevent more children from being hurt or killed as a result of falling from a high rise apartment window or balcony.
In early 2011, a two-year-old boy fell through the flyscreen of a fourth storey kitchen window onto a concrete driveway below while his mother was momentarily distracted. Tragically the child died in hospital as a result of severe head injuries.
Rates of children falling from windows and balconies are increasing at an alarming rate. Many falls result in serious injury, and sadly, many children never recover. These falls often occur in the child's own home and children aged one to five years are most at risk.
The distressing statistics speak for themselves, from January 1998 to 8 November 2011, 210 children were admitted to The Children's Hospital at Westmead following a window or balcony fall. Of these, 113 cases were due to a window fall and 97 cases were due to a balcony fall.
In an attempt to prevent further injuries to children, the Department of Health has produced a range of educational resources, titled 'Kids Can't Fly'. These free resources are available for download via the Kids Health website: www.kidshealth.chw.edu.au/projects/falls-windows-and-balconies. Encourage your executive committee to obtain these resources and distribute them to all lot owners and tenants.
It should be noted that the current Building Code of Australia permits a maximum opening of 12.5cm for windows and balustrades (where regulated). The Children’s Hospital at Westmead recommends for enhanced safety, a maximum opening of 10cm for windows and balustrades.
Please note that there are no laws that require window and balustrade openings in older buildings to meet current building standards. There is however things you can do to improve safety.
To prevent children falling from your windows, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead recommends:
- not be opened more than 10cm when located above the ground floor
- have window latches/locks fitted to stop windows opening more than 10cm or guards to protect the opening (see Kids Can’t Fly Window Safety Product Guide).
- open from the top.