Rabu, 27 April 2011

Kids Still Can't Fly

We posted recently about children falling from windows. It's happened again – this time, fortunately, the four-year old girl who fell is recovering in hospital.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the State Government is considering what actions it might take to address this problem. It need look no further than the report of the Children's Hospital at Westmead.



Now, if you follow the link to the Tele's article (here it is again) you'll see some reader comments at the bottom – many of them from landlords who don't at all mind giving their industry a very bad look. Tidied up a bit, they disclose two main objections – both readily answered.

Objection 1: how about parents exercising some personal responsibility?

Parental care and responsibility will always be the best assurance of a child's safety. Surely the goal is making parents' exercise of responsibility work to best effect. What the Children's Hospital's proposed reforms would do is put window-limiting devices into the hands of parents and tell them 'now, exercise your responsibility and use them – make them work to keep your children safe.'

Objection 2: but what if there's a fire?

The Children's Hospital anticipated this one in their report, and asked Fire and Rescue NSW (formerly NSW Fire Brigades) for its view. It had no conclusive data as to how many people escape fires by exiting through a window – whereas the Hospital's data shows that kids falling from windows is a clear and present hazard. Fire and Rescue NSW's own recommendation is that people should plan to have multiple escape routes in the event of fire, and that window-limiting devices should be able to be unlatched, unlocked or removed by adults.

The Tele editorialises on the issue:

Shut legal window

IT isn't the biggest state project of all time, but it is deeply urgent. A simple change in state housing laws will possibly save many children from serious injury or death resulting from second-floor (and above) window falls.

As things stand, there are relatively few regulations mandating safety for windows in NSW houses. As we've lately seen, these sort of conditions can easily result in terrifying falls for young children.

A basic legal requirement to limit the amount that a window can open, therefore preventing any falls, is all that is needed.

In the meantime, there are extremely simple steps that parents of little children can take in order to make their houses secure.

Any person who is competent with basic tools should be able to stop windows being opened dangerously.

Why wait for the Government to act?

Well said.