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Child Safety

Keeping your toddler and preschooler safe from falls

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Falls can lead to serious injuries. In Alberta, falls are the leading cause of emergency room and urgent-care visits for children. For example:

  • A 3-year-old fell from an open window on the third floor of their apartment building. The child broke a bone in their skull and had to go to the hospital.
  • A 4-year-old fell 6 feet (1.8 metres) from a fence they tried to climb. ​The child broke a leg, got a con​cussion​, and had to go to the hospital.

Your child’s development and falls

Falls are common and can lead to broken bones or head injuries. Children have large heads compared to the rest of their bodies. If a child falls, their head will often hit the ground first.​

As your child grows, they explore more, move faster and can climb, and spend​ more time outdoors. These are new risks that can lead to falls.

How to protect your child from falls​

Being at your child’s side, especially when they’re trying something new (like starting to ride a bike), is the best way to prevent falls.​

It’s also important that children play and spend time in safe places. You can find child safety products and devices at many stores and online. Read the product information closely and know how to use it.

Here are tips to help protect your child from falls.

Windows

An open window can lead to a serious fall. A screen won’t protect your child from falling. Their weight can easily push a screen out of the window casing. There are many ways to prevent falls from windows:

  • Put window guards on windows higher than ground level. These are like gates in front of windows.
  • Put safety devices on windows that prevent them from opening more than 10 cm (4 inches). An adult should know how to easily take the device off or be able to open the window all the way in case there is an emergency.
  • Keep cords for drapes, blinds, and curtains out of your child’s reach. If you have long cords, wrap them around cleats, or wrap them up high on the wall. This is important to lower the risk of your child strangling or choking on cords.

Furniture and stairs

Falls can happen in your home. Here’s how to prevent them:

  • Move furniture away from windows, balcony rails and counters to stop children from climbing.
  • Attach loose furniture (such as dressers, bookshelves, and TVs) to the wall. Check stores that sell child safety products for devices to help with this.
  • Teach your child to walk up and down stairs holding on to the handrail.
  • Keep safety gates on the stairs until your child can climb them safely.

At the playground

Playgrounds are very exciting places for young children. But each year, many children in Alberta get seriously hurt from falls at the playground. Here's how to help protect your child from playground falls:

  • Watch your child closely and stay nearby when they're using playground equipment.
  • Choose playgrounds with safe surfaces under playground equipment, such as sand, pea gravel, wood mulch, or rubber.
  • Make sure the playground equipment is the right size for your child and they can reach it on their own.
  • Check that the equipment has strong handrails and barriers to help prevent falls.

On wheels

When your child is on a bike or riding in anything on wheels, follow these tips to help keep them safe from falls:

  • Make sure they wear a helmet every time they ride on a tricycle, bike, or other ride-on toys. Be a good role model and wear a helmet too.
  • Put a helmet on your child when they’re riding in a bike trailer or child bike seat.
  • Make sure your child’s bike is the right size for them.
  • When your child is in a shopping cart, make sure they’re always sitting down and wearing the safety straps. Stay close to your child when they're in a shopping cart.
Adapted from Kids Don’t Bounce series, an Alberta Health Services Provincial Injury Prevention resource.


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Current as of: February 19, 2021

Author: Injury Prevention Program, Alberta Health Services