ZYTARUK: Summer heat all too often means kids falling out of windows and balconies

Tom Zytaruk

So let it be written…

‘Tis the season.

What is it with Surrey, that when the weather gets nice small children start raining out of second and third storey windows?

Some land on concrete pathways, while luckier ones hit a bush on the way down, or fall onto a lawn.

I’m not trying to be cute here, because this is not a cute thing. Thankfully most of these youngsters escape with a bruise or two, but a few are seriously injured.

Friday morning – heading into a scorching weekend – the Surrey RCMP put out its first such bulletin of the season: Child Falls from Second Storey Balcony.

In this case, a four-year-old boy fell from an apartment building in Guildford. Fortunately he wasn’t badly injured. Still, he was taken by ambulance to hospital, as a precaution.

According to the Mounties, this young fellow got onto the balcony through the patio door, climbed up on a chair that was against the balcony railing, climbed over the railing and tumbled three metres or so to some soft ground below. Apparently a neighbour saw this, and helped the young lad back to his apartment where, God bless him, he didn’t do it all over again.

The RCMP’s police release, once again, reminded parents that, with the warmer weather now here, they need to be careful not to leave their windows and patio doors open as this poses too tempting an invitation to trouble for curious and adventurous young minds.

Then on June 7, a six-year-old girl fell through a window and landed on her face in Fraser Heights at roughly 112th Avenue and 158A Street.

The girl was unconscious for less than a minute, according to police, but she checked out OK, suffering broken teeth and scratches on her face.

police say a six-year-old girl fell through a window and landed on her face in Fraser Heights Sunday night around 6 p.m. at roughly 112th Avenue and 158A Street.

The girl was unconscious for less than a minute, according to Surrey RCMP, but she checked out OK, suffering broken teeth and scratches on her face.

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Although reason suggests this can’t be a phenomenon exclusive to Surrey, it seems like it is. I asked Sergeant Sarah Swallow, of the Delta Police, if she could remember the last time a child took a spill out of a window in her municipality and she said she couldn’t, "touch wood."

"All the ones I’ve seen have been in Surrey," she said.

It’s not like Delta doesn’t have homes with second and third storey windows and balconies. I asked Sergeant Dale Carr, of the Surrey RCMP, how many such falls Surrey records each year.

"I would say less than a dozen but they do increase as the temperature rises," he replied.

I recall one year there were so many falls, so close together, that local newspapers were keeping running tabs on them. Let’s look at some of the falls over the past five years and see if something can’t be learned from them.

  • This one happened in Whalley. A four-year-old boy fell out of the second-storey window of an apartment, hitting a metal hydro metre on the way down. Apparently there was a bed close to the window, and the child got out onto the ledge.

  • A three-year-old girl fell 12 feet through a second-floor window at her house in Newton. She was bouncing on a sofa in a second-story room when she pushed against the window, popped the screen from the frame and fell to a garden and concrete walkway.

  • A two-year-old child fell out of the second-storey window of a townhouse in Sullivan. The tot had been pushing on a screen, which gave way.

  • A 13-month-old boy suffered a broken leg and fractured skull after falling three metres to the pavement from the window of a duplex in Newton. The baby’s teenaged cousin was holding him up to the window so he could see outside. The window was screened and she had him standing on the sill, police said. The boy wiggled free and fell forward, breaking through the screen.

  • A two-year-old boy fell through the screen of a third-storey townhouse window in South Surrey, breaking his nose. A two-year-old girl fell through the screen of a second-storey window in Sullivan Heights.

Some of these children weren’t seriously injured. But when it comes to kids plunging out of windows, you should always expect the worst.

So if you’ve got little kids, move your sofas, chairs and other climbable stuff away from your upper floor windows and balcony rails. And don’t assume a screen window isn’t flimsy. There’s a saying that when something can’t be relied on, it’s about as useful as a screen door installed in a submarine. Likewise, screens aren’t that great at preventing kids from plunging through windows, either.

Finally, fresh air is great, but maybe get a fan for your kids’ sake. Just make sure their little fingers can’t get at the spinning blades.

So let it be done…

Tom Zytaruk can be reached at tzytaruk@thenownewspaper.com

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