Falls from windows and balconies

Kids Don't Fly : Window and balcony safety for children
An increasing number of children are admitted to hospital each year, with serious injuries, as a result of falling from windows and balconies. These falls often occur in the child's own home, over the warmer months when families leave windows and doors to balconies, open both during the day and at night. Children aged from one to five years are most at risk as they are naturally curious, but lack the ability to recognise danger.
The Children’s Hospital at Westmead recommends that windows in children’s bedrooms and other habitable rooms be fitted with a child resistant window safety device . It should be installed so that a 125mm sphere cannot pass through the window opening, and should be able to withstand a 250N force.
It is important that parents, carers and landlords ensure the safety of their home for children. Since 2013, a number of changes have been made to ensure the safety of children around windows.
Changes to the Australian Building Code and Strata Legislation
Since 2013, new codes and laws relating to the building of new homes and existing strata properties have begun.
For all new homes built in Australia after 1 May 2013, the Australian Building Codes now require that

  • In any new building, any openable bedroom window above the ground floor that has a fall height of two metres or more to the surface below requires protection to prevent children falling through them.

Changes have also been made to protect families living in rental properties. The changes to NSW Strata legislation require that by 13 March 2018:

  • Owners’ corporations must have such devices fitted on all common property windows above the ground floor to prevent children falling through them.

  • All strata buildings in NSW must be fitted with devices that enable the windows to be locked at 12.5cm when the device is engaged.

  • These rules apply to openable windows above the ground level that are accessible to children. If the openable window is less than 1.7 metres above the floor and the floor is more than 2 metres above the outside ground level, then a safety device must be installed. The window opening must be restricted to a maximum opening of 12.5cm.

More information is available at http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/regulation/2016/501
Safety Devices
Safety devices must be child resistant, be installed to not allow a 125mm sphere to pass through the window opening, and be able to withstand a 250N force.

To increase the safety of your children near windows and on balconies, please follow our recommendations below.

Window safety for children

Children can fall out of a window which is open more than 12.5cm, even if a fly screen is present.

To prevent children falling from your windows, The Children's Hospital at Westmead (CHW) recommends:

  • All windows above the ground floor to be opened no more than 12.5cm.

  • All windows have window locks/latches fitted to stop windows opening more than 12.5cm, or guards to protect the opening.

  • Where possible, open windows from the top.

  • Beds and other furniture are kept away from windows, so that children cannot climb up to windows.

  • Parents do not rely on flyscreens to prevent a child from falling out of a window.

  • Children are taught to play away from windows.

  • Children are always supervised.

Balcony safety for children

  • To prevent children falling from your balcony, CHW recommends:

  • Balcony balustrades (railings) be at least 1metre high.

  • Any vertical bars in the balustrade are no more than 12.5cm apart (use a ruler to measure).

  • Your balustrade should have no horizontal or near horizontal parts that would allow children to climb.

  • All furniture, pot plants and other climbable objects are kept away from the edge of the balcony.

  • Parents be aware of furniture that is light enough for children to drag to the balcony edge.

  • Children are always supervised.

  • Doors leading to balconies are kept closed so that children cannot gain access to them.

For further information on how to make windows and balconies safe, please download the resources below.

Working Party for the Prevention of Children Falling from Residential Buildings

In 2008, The Children's Hospital at Westmead (CHW) identified falls from residential buildings as an increasing cause of injury, often associated with serious and fatal injuries as revealed by the number of injuries with a high Injury Severity Score. As a result, the Centre for Trauma Care, Prevention, Education and Research at CHW, together with the Kids Health Promotion Unit at CHW, established the 'Working Party for the Prevention of Children Falling from Residential Buildings'. The full Outcomes Report from the working group and a summary are available from the downloads section below.