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Five Tips to Keep Kids from Falling at Home

A 35-year-old Bronx woman is facing child endangerment charges after her young daughter was hospitalized from injuries she suffered from falling out of a window on February 13. The New York Daily News reports that the 5-year-old girl had climbed out the window in her third-story apartment to clear snow off of an air conditioning unit when she tumbled to the ground.

At the time, the girl was at home with her two sisters, ages 1 and 9.  Their mother had gone shopping and was charged with endangerment for leaving the children alone, the newspaper reports.

Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for children up to 19 years old, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Each day, approximately 8,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries. This adds up to almost 2.8 million emergencies a year.

The Bronx girl was lucky. Tragically, many falls from windows result in death, and toddlers are the leading age group affected by these types of falls. They are curious, they don’t understand the danger, they are unsteady on their feet, and have a high center of gravity.

While falls can occur anywhere – at school, church, daycare, or even the grocery store – the majority take place at home. The most common causes of falls are slipping, tripping, stumbling, and falling down stairs or from another high surface.

Here are five precautions you can take to help keep your children safe from falls:

  1. Move things away from windows. Children love to climb, and they will clamber onto anything they can reach. Move all furniture, boxes, and other things away from windows to reduce their risk of falling. Adults who are responsible for caring for children should take extra precautions to keep children safe around windows. Window screens are not enough.
  2. Clean up clutter. Keep stairs and pathways clear of household clutter to make it easier and safer for your children to move around. In addition, teach your children to put their things away when they are finished playing to help keep their home safe.
  3. Install and maintain handrails on steps and stairs. Make sure you have handrails on both sides of stairs wherever possible. They should extend the full length of the staircase or steps, all the way from top to bottom. Teach your children to use railings anytime they travel up or down steps. Railings can also break falls by providing a handhold if your child or another family member slips or trips on the stairs.
  4. Danger-proof your bathroom. Placing grab bars in your tub or shower, by the toilet or even near your bathroom sink is a good idea for keeping your bathroom area safe. Anywhere there is a concentration of soap and water can spell danger for kids and adults. Small children often use a step stool when using the sink, and their feet may not reach the ground from the toilet. Using grab bars will give them more stability. Slip-resistant strips in the tub and under rugs may also save a family member from taking a tumble in the bathroom.
  5. Use safety gates. Safety gates can keep young children and toddlers away from danger zones, such as staircases and steps. Gates that screw into walls are safer options because they are harder to knock down. Avoid gates that fold up. These can catch a child’s arm or leg, or pinch tender skin.

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