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Keeping Kids Safe

Sunday, 22nd July 2012

High density housing and community living offer a great lifestyle but can also pose dangers especially for children.

Falls from balconies and windows saw 210 children admitted to The Children's Hospital at Westmead in New South Wales between January 1998 and November 2011.  Nodoubt the statistics are similar in Victoria and Queensland.  Of these, 113 cases were due to a window fall and 97 cases were due to a balcony fall.  Children aged one to five years of age are most at risk.

Senior Lecturer with the Faculty of Law at the University of NSW, Cathy Sherry knows more than most people about the price paid by adventurous young children who are seriously injured in falls.  She psnt two years working with a cross-section of experts brought together by The Children's Hospital at Westmead to try and reduce the incidence of falls.

"I want to stress to strata managers that this is not a fanciful risk.  Twelve children are admitted to the Children's Hospital at Westmead every year as result of a balcony or window fall.  You can probably double that if you take into account the children going to the Sydney Children's Hospital at Randwick.  And then there are the children outside of Sydney who go to other hospitals, John Hunter, Woolongong. So it is not fanciful," Ms Sherry said.

"The biggest problem is fly screens.  No fly screen can support the weight of a child.  Parents don't perceive a window with a fly screen as an open window but unless they are specifically designed they can't even support a baby's weight.

"Part of the problem with apartments is the size.  It's difficult for families not to have furniture pushed up against windows.  Most kids who fall are playing in the bedroom, climbing on the bed, or the tallboy, or chest of drawers.  Living in an apartment you can't just open the back door and tell the two-year-old to play within sight; it's inevitable in apartments children will be playing inside.

In New South Wales, the Department of Health has started a campaign to warn people of the danger and provide them with practical advice on making their homes safer.  Strata managers in New South Wales can order free resources such as posters and flyers which can be placed in common areas and handed out to residents.

The campaign also provides information on products which be be easily fitted to windows to prevent them opening too far thus preventing a child from falling out.

This article appeared in the BCS Lifestyle magazine Autumn 2012 issue.  To read more visit http://www.bcssm.com.au/services/additional-services/community-lifestyle...



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Comment from RobertGlover on Saturday, 09th July 2016

I am writing a dissertation and collecting information on this topic. Your post is one of the better that I have read.

Comment from AlbertPrice on Friday, 27th July 2012

All the points are good and noticeable. I hope this will be helpful for me. Parents are the first line in helping make healthy choices for their children. But the deck is often stacked against them. Let's all join in to fight for the health of our children!

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