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 a maximum opening of 12.5cm for windows and balustrades. Please note, there are no laws that require window and balustrade openings in older buildings to meet current building standards.

 

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.