SEATTLE (AP) — While her teenage stepson watched her young kids in her living room earlier this month, Chelsea Nelson took a short break in her adjacent bedroom. Then she heard a loud bang. She came out and saw her stepson “with terror in his face.”
Her kids – 2-year-old Jamari and 5-year-old Aliviah – had climbed their couch, pushed through an open window, and fallen from their third-story apartment. She rushed to the balcony, saw them below and ran out of her apartment.
“It was almost like a nightmare, you know, where those staircases just feel like they’re never ending,” Nelson said.
She found her daughter knocked unconscious and bloodied. Her son was knocked out too, but woke up crying soon after she got to them.
“No parent deserves to have to go through that. Nobody wants to see their child like that,” she said.
As a heat wave engulfs a large section of the United States, doctors and firefighters are sounding an alarm on an old and stubborn foe: kids falling from windows.
Between 3,500 and 5,000 kids, usually between 2 and 5 years old, fall from windows annually in the United States, said Dr. Brian D. Johnston of UW Medicine.
In the Pacific Northwest, where use of air conditioning remains relatively low, falls from windows spike in summer.
Officials say steps to keep kids away from windows include getting stoppers so that a window doesn’t open more than four inches, moving furniture away from windows and constant supervision.