Marysville toddler seriously injured in fall from window

The accident prompted a reminder by authorities that window screens cannot prevent a child from falling.

MARYSVILLE — A toddler was flown by medical helicopter and hospitalized with possibly life-threatening injuries Tuesday afternoon after falling six feet from a window.

The child, about 2 years old, fell from a first story window onto concrete and was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle to be treated, according to a Facebook post by the Marysville Fire District.

“While our thoughts are with that child’s family, we want to encourage all of you to check your windows and install locks or guards if you haven’t already (these prevent the window from fully opening),” the fire district’s post said. “Window screens are not strong enough to support the weight of a child.”

As temperatures rise, people try to cool their homes with a breeze through open windows. Every year it leads to thousands of injuries nationally and about a couple dozen in Snohomish County.

Each year, 3,500 to 5,000 U.S. children are hospitalized after falling from an open window, according to data compiled by Harborview. Window screens provide no protection against such tragedies and likely contribute to the risk of a fall. Over 85% percent of children who fall through windows first fall through a screen, the hospital reported.

Harborview admits 40 to 50 young children annually for injuries sustained in falls from windows. One-third of children hospitalized after a window fall require intensive care, and one in four children returns home with a disability. Serious head injuries are common; other injuries include facial fractures, neck and abdominal injuries and arm and leg fractures.

Most window falls happen in the child’s own home, according to Harborview. Over 70% occur in spring and summer months, when families open windows for cooling and ventilation. As of 2015, 4 of every 5 Seattle rental units had no primary air conditioning, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Children are vulnerable to falls, whether they live in single-family homes or apartments, the city or the suburbs.

“Window screens give a false sense of security,” Dr. Brian Johnston, chief of pediatrics at Harborview, the region’s only Level I pediatric and adult trauma center, said on the hospital’s website. “A screen is not a safety device. It’s designed to keep insects out, not to keep children in. Parents of young children need to take other steps to prevent this tragedy.”

The Marysville Fire District encouraged people to move furniture away from windows to keep children from climbing to them.

If a child falls from a window, call 911 because moving them could make their injuries worse.

The Marysville Fire District has some window locks available for free. Call 360-363-8507.

Ben Watanabe: bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.

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