Initiative against child accidents.

Falls from windows: Window restrictors can save lives! Particularly high risk in March and April

Falls from windows are among the most serious accidents for children. Currently, the risk of falls from windows is particularly high due to the increasingly warm time of year. In a circular letter sent to over 5,000 Austrian childcare facilities, which included the request to display the letter in a clearly-visible spot in kindergartens, the KFV appealed to all parents to implement preventive measures immediately by mounting window restrictors in the home.

Vienna, 18. March 2015

The tragic death by accident of a ten-year-old boy in Vienna painfully illustrates once again that falls from windows are no rarity in Austria. It doesn't take more than an open window and one inobservant moment for the nightmare of all parents to become a reality. Around 20 falls from windows occur annually in Austria - two to three children die as a result of these accidents. Particularly for small children betwenn the ages of two and three the risk is very high. Speed and range of movement increase exponentially at this age. And the world out there becomes more exciting and is interesting to watch through the window. Children's urge to explore, combined with open windows or unsecured balconies, can become incalculable sources of danger within seconds.

Life-threatening danger of open windows - currently the risk is particularly high

Falls from windows are not only among the most frequent but also the most severe accidents involving children. "The consequences are severe and range from contusions to broken bones, on through the life-threatening injuries of the head and spine. Two to three children die annually from the consequences," explains Dr. Othmar Thann, Director of the KFV (Austrian Road Safety Board). As the risk of falls from windows is now particularly high due to the increasingly warm weather, the KFV has sent out a safety warning to more than 5,000 Austrian child care facilities with the aim of informing parents of this danger and providing simple instructions for action.

Avoiding falls from windows is easy!

Construction measures such as window restrictors can save lives. "When there are toddlers in the home, windows should always be fitted with window restrictors. Most suitable are restrictors that are already integrated into the window or door handle and can be opened only with a key," recommends Thann. "Due to the unchanging rate of accidents in Austria, a mandatory implementation of window restrictors should also be discussed!"

Furthermore, the KFV recommends fitting windows with restrictors where these are not already present. This implementation involves the fitting of a rail onto the window frame, which a hook or chain on the window sash latches onto. Window restrictors should principally be screwed and mounted on the upper edge of windows - i.e. beyond the reach of children. These secured windows cannot be opened more than ten centimetres, thus also preventing children from getting their fingers caught. "Do not leave your child alone in the room when you open a window for fresh air. The best restrictor is useless when the window is open," Thann appeals to parents' duty of supervision.

KFV safety tips:

  • Do not leave children in a room alone when you open a window for fresh air but take them with you to the next room!
  • Equip windows and balcony doors with restrictors that can be locked!
  • Window restrictors can easily be fitted if your windows don't yet have any!
  • Do not place chairs, tables, etc. near windows or balcony doors - children skilfully use these as "climbing aids"!
  • When you are cleaning windows, don't forget to keep your child away from opened windows. Just one little moment often suffices for a child to climb up into a window!
  • Do not place enticing objects on window sills or balcony balustrades!

Initiative against child accidents - VISION ZERO 2020: Child accidents are preventable!

No child killed or severely injured in Austria! This is the ambitious objective of the KFV initiative Vision Zero 2020. In accordance with the motto "Full attention - Zero accidents!" Austria will be declared a child-safe area. Targeted information and exciting campaigns are to increase awareness for protecting our little ones and child accidents are to be prevented through practical prevention measures.