Three-year-old Wallace Passos succumbed to his injuries after falling from a 17th storey, condominium complex window on April 26, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario.
The screened windows in the condo complex can be opened wide or just a few inches and when the window is in lock position, it would be very difficult for a child to open.
While this incident is under investigation to find out exactly how Wallace fell through the window, Toronto Police have determined that this is a tragic and unfortunate accident.
According to the '2012 Child and Youth Injury Report' compiled by the Public Health Agency of Canada (latest statistics) falling is the leading cause of hospitalization for children.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission states that 3,000 to 5,000 children fall out of windows every year and it is considered one of the top five home hazards.
As children grow and begin to explore their environment with increased strength and mobility, the chance of this type of accident occurring multiplies because they are very curious and completely unaware of the dangers.
For your children's safety and for your peace of mind, Children’s Health and Safety Association recommends the following precautionary measures:
- Window screens are not sufficient to protect your children from falling out of a window because they can be easily lifted, torn or pushed out. Keep your windows (above the first storey) closed or install window safety devices. A window guard or window stop will prevent your windows from opening beyond four inches (4") and at the same time, allow an adult to open it fully, if required
- Don’t underestimate your child’s strength and capabilities.
- Discuss the dangers of climbing on window ledges and leaning or pushing against window screens with your children.
- To eliminate the possibility of a child reaching a window ledge, keep cribs and other climbable furniture away from windows.
- Many municipalities require apartment windows to have mechanical safety devices so they cannot be opened more than 10 cm (4 inches). Make sure the mechanical safety devices are working properly. If you remove or disable the safety devices, you can endanger the life of your child.
- When opening a window for ventilation, choose one that your child cannot reach. Whenever possible, open your windows from the top instead of the bottom.
- Doors to balconies should be secured with a childproof lock.
- If you have double-hung windows (the kind that can open from the top as well as up from the bottom), we highly recommend you open the top pane. Please remember, growing children may have enough strength and dexterity to open the bottom pane. Do not assume an unlocked window is childproof.
- Children are often tempted to climb up to apartment windows and balcony guardrails to get a better view. In such instances, a fall can happen in a matter of seconds. Never leave children unattended on a balcony or near an open window.
- Use barriers to prevent children from climbing to upper floors.
- If you live in a two or three storey family home, strategic landscaping may lessen the extent of injury sustained in the event of a fall. Shrubs and soft edging such as wood chips or grass under a window can cushion falls.
- Fire escapes, balconies and rooftop areas are 'unsafe' environments for children to play.
- If you're planning to replace your windows, make sure they have the best safety features and devices.
- Secure curtain pulls or blind cords with cleats fastened high on the window frame. Many children have been strangled while playing with dangling window blind cords.
- Safety devices cannot take the place of adult supervision.
- Making your home child-safe is not a one-time project – it’s an ongoing responsibility!