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Utah doctors seeing more serious injuries from children falling out of windows

By Emily Ashcraft

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    RIVERTON, Utah (KSL) — Tariq Staton’s first reaction when he heard a bang on his garage door was to check on his little girl.

He quickly discovered 3-year-old Jazarah was not in her bed. He checked her window and heard a moaning from outside — so he ran down the stairs, while telling his wife what had happened.

“I probably hit like three stairs going down … got outside and I saw her wedged in between my car and the garage door,” he recalled Monday.

Staton sad he could tell his daughter had fallen out the second-story window, hit his car, bounced onto the garage door and then fallen to the ground. She had dirt and blood on her face but was conscious when he found her. He stabilized her head, moved her into the house and then he and his wife rushed their young child to the hospital.

The parents had cracked open their daughter’s window “just as much as we normally do” to allow for a breeze when they put her to bed over Memorial Day weekend in 2021. They heard the bang on their garage door about 30 minutes later.

Shayna Staton, Jazarah’s mother, said a CT scan showed their daughter had a skull fracture and minor brain bleed and she was transferred from Riverton Hospital to Primary Children’s Hospital for more testing and for monitoring in the neuro intensive care unit. All additional tests came back negative.

“We knew how lucky we were, thanks to Tariq’s car being parked underneath the window,” she said.

The good thing about this injury is that it is very preventable, Shayna Staton said. “If I could give any advice to any parent, it would be to invest in a window lock.”

Jazarah, now 5 years old, acted shy at a press conference Monday. She looked healthy and has recovered from her fall.

Even before the family left the hospital, they purchased window locks online. Shayna Staton said they want to let other parents know to take precautions to prevent falls from windows.

Dr. Michael Rollins, a pediatric trauma surgeon at Primary Children’s Hospital, said doctors there treat about 28 children each year who have fallen out of windows, mostly children who were transferred for more specialized care. He said over the last few years they have noticed injuries getting more serious — almost doubling the injury significance score used by the hospital in the last two years from 9 to 15.

He said they are seeing more children admitted into the intensive care unit with serious brain injuries, major skull fractures or other broken bones who need neurologic monitoring. This is about one-fifth of the children who fall from a window.

The most common injuries from children falling out of windows are broken arms and legs — but a close second is serious brain injury, which can necessitate surgery, Rollins said.

If a child does fall from a window, or any height over 10 feet, he said parents should have them evaluated by a medical professional. If a child seems lethargic after a fall or is not moving, it indicates more severe injury and he recommends calling 911.

Dr. Spencer Proctor, emergency department and trauma medical director at Riverton Hospital, said the hospital has worked to build a trauma program over the last four to five years. While creating the program, doctors have noticed an uptick in children falling from windows.

Sometimes these falls only result in soft-tissue injuries, Proctor said, but others can cause significant head and chest injuries. In most cases, children are admitted to the hospital.

He said their goal right now is “education and intervention.”

Michelle Jamison, community health program manager with Primary Children’s Hospital, suggested not placing furniture around windows because that can give children better access.

“Curious kids want to climb up,” she said.

She also told parents to remember that window screens are designed to keep bugs out and not to keep children in. They are built to be pushed out in emergencies and disconnect with very little pressure.

Jamison recommends windows be opened 4 inches or less. The hospital is providing window clings in English and Spanish for parents to place on windows as a reminder.

“It’s a great visual reminder as you are opening your windows to only go that 4 inches,” she said.

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