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WEST JORDAN — On a spring day two years ago, West Jordan mom Sarie Hurd was getting her two toddlers ready for bed.
"And I turned, Cooper was gone," she said.
In just a matter of seconds, 3-year-old Cooper had climbed a small table and had his hands against the screen in their bedroom window.
"He just leaned and fell straight down. It happened so fast," Sarie remembers.
Remarkably, Cooper had only a few scrapes and bruises. The screen protected his fall against the window well five feet below.
Cooper was one of the lucky ones. His room was on the first floor of the family home. Most kids who are badly injured or killed in window falls live in multi-unit apartments, with windows on the upper floors.
"Screens are designed to keep bugs out. They're not designed to keep children in," said Jessica Strong, the community health manager at Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital.
"If you have windows open, make sure that you're supervising your children in those rooms," she added.
Each year in the United States, 15 to 20 children under the age of 11 die, and as many as 15,000 are injured because of falls from windows.
Fortunately, there are many things that can be done to keep children from being injured from a window fall. One important precaution is to install window guards and stops.
Window guards secure into the sides of a window frame and have bars spaced no more than four inches apart. They are sold in different sizes to fit any window. Guards also must allow for quick escape from windows in case of an emergency, while still being difficult for young children to open.
Window guards should be used in combination with window stops, which prevent windows from opening more than four inches above the top bar of the window guard.
Safety tips to prevent window falls:
- Keep your windows closed and locked when children are around. If you do open a window for ventilation, open ones that are out of the reach of children.
- Never depend on screens to keep children from falling out of windows. Screens are not designed to prevent falls.
- Keep furniture, or anything a child can climb, away from windows.
- Set and enforce rules about keeping children's play away from windows.
- Most window falls occur when children are left alone. There is no substitute for supervision.
Strong can't stress enough that, "it can happen so quickly." That's why, she says, "It's important to try and put in some of those preventative measures to help keep kids safe."
"You can just never be too careful with kids. And just count our blessings every day," she said. "Especially after something like this."
Sarie and her husband now have three boys under the age of five. After Cooper's fall, they are even more diligent about their safety.