Sally Jo, Sean's wife and Taryn's mother, was getting ready for a playdate for her children this week while her two daughters were playing around the window of her bedroom – when one of them simply disappeared.
“My wife looked behind the curtain, expecting Taryn to be hiding behind it, but she wasn’t there," Sean says. "She looked out the window and saw the baby down on the ground. She fell from the third floor down to the concrete. It traumatizes me to even describe that.”
Two-year-old Taryn had stepped onto the baseboard heater under the window and leaned against the window screen. The screen popped out and Taryn fell to the ground. Her four-year-old sister, who she’d been playing with, didn’t even know where she went.
Sally ran to the ground floor and called 9-1-1. They were airlifted to BC Children’s Hospital, where Taryn was treated for a broken leg, cracked jaw and two cracked teeth, which had to be removed.
“Taryn is recovering quickly, but not all children who fall from windows are so lucky,” says BC Children’s Trauma Surgical Director Dr. Rob Baird. He and Sean spoke to media Friday to raise awareness about the dangers of open windows and young children.
So far this year, 11 children have been treated at our hospital after falling from a window. Last year, there were a total of 16, two of whom died.
“Any time you are opening a window in your house or apartment this summer, please remember to take a moment to pause and consider whether there will be children near that window,” says Baird. “Install window locks so your windows can’t open more than 10 centimetres. They’re available for less than five dollars from any hardware store and simply screw onto your windows.”
Baird says the majority of children who we see are between the ages of two and four years old.
“Some of the hardest calls I ever get are to treat a child who has fallen from a window,” he says. “Young children are top heavy so when they fall, they usually hit their heads first when they hit the ground. The result is often brain or spine injuries, as well as many other potential injuries.”
Sean previously showed his kids how dangerous open windows could be by dropping a teddy bear to the ground. And when the incident happened, his wife was in the room. He’s worried people are used to air conditioning with closed windows or sturdier window protection, like the bars many people in his home country of South Korea have on windows.
“My child was the 11th child to be treated at BC Children’s after falling from a window. I don’t want to see a child number 12.”
- Move furniture and planters – or anything that can be climbed on – away from windows.
- Install window guards on windows above the ground floor. Fasten windows so they cannot open more than 10 centimetres wide. Ensure there's a safety release in case of fire.
- Talk to your children about the dangers of opening or playing near windows, particularly on upper floors of the home or in a high-rise home.
- Remember that screens keep bugs out, not children in! Screens are easily pushed out.
- Don’t underestimate a child’s mobility; children begin climbing before they can walk
Read the CBC story or watch the story (including video of how far Taryn fell) on Global News and CTV News.