Written by Lauren Ziegler:
In recent weeks, there has been a significant rise in media attention towards window safety in apartment buildings, following an inquest into a number of injuries and tragic incidents involving children falling out of window openings. Over 2011 and 2012, it is believe that upwards of 40 children were hospitalised falling out of windows. And that’s just in New South Wales.
Proposed regulation states that over the next five years, window locks will be a required addition to all windows above a first floor, with openings larger than 12.5 cm. Preventative measures such as these are fantastic steps forward for child safety and maintaining security in the family home. Hopefully, with the changes will bring further education and reminders to all parents about the importance of not only angers outside the home – but those inside, and indeed, in their perimeters.
This is one of the rare instances in modern society, in which there has been unanimous support and applaud in favour of this move, from strata management companies, homeowners, the leadership opposition, as well as countless community and parenting groups throughout the state. It cannot come soon enough – the five year installation period really should be far smaller. It is a matter or life and death. Whilst there can be no law specifying how far one can open a window, such an important issue should be left up to the responsibility and common sense of the parent or carer watching the child, combined with the additional aid of the window locks, to prevent accident.
Many parents believe that fly screens can prevent children from falling out, but sometimes they can be removed or snapped off. Especially as a child grows – the above statistic refers to children aged 9 and below – by this time, they can be heavy enough to push out a fly screen. The locks can add extra safety that fly screens cannot, and are far sturdier, especially when made of brass or other metals.
The importance of such a small addition to household safety cannot be underestimated, and we can only hope that the new rules will be implemented and followed as quickly as possible, to prevent further injuries, fatal or otherwise.
The Children’s Hospital at Westmead are proud supporters of this great change for the better, and have provided a list of guidelines for preventing children falling from windows and balconies: click here for more information.