Review of high-rise child safety risks urged
An urgent review of the safety risk posed by window locks in high-rise apartments is needed, according to a new study. The report, by the Children’s University Hospital, Temple Street, also urges parents to take simple preventative steps to reduce the risk of children falling from windows in their home.
The study analysed 45 high falls suffered by children admitted to the hospital over the past two years. Boys outnumbered girls by three to one among patients presenting with injuries caused by the high window falls. Some 80 per cent of patients were between one and five years old.
Prof Alf Nicholson, consultant paediatrician at Temple Street, said the research showed the risk factors for such falls were young age, a fall from a height greater than two storeys and a hard landing surface. Simple measures could be taken at home to minimise the risk of falls, he said. “Prevention should focus on use of window guards and window locks as well as placement of furniture away from windows and softening of landing surfaces below. An urgent review of window locks in high-rise apartments is also required,” he said.
In two cases, falls from a height greater than 7.35m were recorded, both of which occurred from high-rise apartment windows and both resulted in death. These children had multiple injuries and significant brain contusions.
The study says strategies to prevent the risk of injury due to window falls have been implemented successfully in other countries and calls for similar measures to be introduced in Ireland.
The height of fall was directly associated with the severity of injury. Falls from a height under 3.68m accounted for 31 cases. Twelve cases were attributed to falls from between 3.66-7.35m. Eight children sustained limb fractures, four cases had skull vault fractures and one had a base skull fracture.