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Child Safety

Keeping Your Toddler and Preschooler Safe from Falls

​​​​​​​​​​​​Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospital admissions and emergency department visits for toddlers and preschoolers in Alberta. Falls can lead to serious injuries. For example:

  • Aaron, age 3, fell from an open window on the third floor of his apartment building. He was hospitalized with a skull fracture.
  • Gena, age 4, fell 6 feet from a fence she tried to climb. She was hospitalized with a broken leg and a concussion.

Falls can be prevented! Find out what you can do to keep your child safe from falls.

Your Child’s Development and Falls

As your child grows, he or she explores more, moves faster and can climb, and spends more time outdoors. Your child is faced with new risks that can lead to falls.

Children have large heads compared to their bodies—d​uring a fall, a child’s head will often hit the ground first and take the impact.

Falls are all too common and can be serious—causing broken bones and head injuries. The safety tips listed here are simple, don't take a lot of time, and can begin today!

Protecting Your Child from Falls

INDOORS

Windows

To a curious child, an open window can lead to a serious fall. A screen can easily give way to the weight of a child. To prevent falls from windows:
  • Install window guards on all windows on the second floor and above. These act like gates in front of windows.
    OR
  • Fix the windows so that they don't open more than 10 cm (4 inches).

Make sure an adult can still easily open the windows in case of an emergency.

Furniture and Stairs

  • Move furniture away from windows, balcony rails and counters to stop children from climbing.
  • Secure dressers, bookshelves and televisions to the wall to prevent them from falling on your child. 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's a safe climber.

OUTDOORS

At the Playground

Playgrounds are very exciting places for young children. Each year, many children in Alberta are seriously hurt from falls from playground equipment. To help protect your child from playground falls:

  • Actively supervise your child when they're using playground equipment. This means staying close and giving them constant attention.
  • Choose playgrounds with safe surfacing under equipment, such as sand, pea gravel, wood mulch, or rubber.
  • Keep children under age 5 off playground equipment that's higher than 1.5 metres (5 feet).
  • Check that the equipment has strong handrails and barriers to help prevent falls.

On Wheels

  • Make sure your child wears a helmet for every ride on a ride-on toy, tricycle, in a bike trailer, or on a bicycle.
  • Make sure the bicycle is the right size for your child.
  • Be a good role model and wear a helmet, too!
  • Make sure your child is seated at all times when in a shopping cart. Stay close to your child whenever they're in a shopping cart.

Supervision is the best prevention!

Preventing falls is a combination of supervision and safe environments. Always being at your child’s side when he or she is trying something new (like riding a bike for the first time) is the best way to prevent falls. Also, supervise more closely as the level of risk goes up (such as on the playground).

Stay a Step Ahead of Injury

All parents want to keep their children safe. A fall can happen very quickly. Preventing injuries takes action. Encourage your child at all times to do what you know is safe​. Make safety a habit for everyone.

Tips for preventing falls for toddlers and pre-schoolers:

  • Actively supervise your child, especially when they’re trying new activities.
  • Install window guards on all windows on the second story and above.
  • Move furniture away from balcony rails, windows and counters.
  • Make sure playground equipment is no higher than 1.5 metres (5 feet) and has adequate surfacing and barriers.
  • Make sure children always wears a helmet when they ride a bicycle, scooter, ride on toy,​ or when they ride in a bicycle trailer.

Adapted from Kids Don’t Bounce series

Current as of: February 16, 2016

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention Program, Alberta Health Services