EVERETT, Wash. — It can happen quickly and quietly: A curious toddler climbs up on some furniture and falls out a window.
Everett Firefighter Rachael Doniger has heard of it happening far too often.
"I know one story where the family was cooking dinner and the food had burned so they opened the window just for a second to let the smoke out of the house and the child fell out of the window that quickly," she said.
A record 22 falls occurred in Snohomish County alone last year. Officials believe that number is probably higher because less serious falls are often not reported.
Nationwide, about 5,000 children fall out of windows every year. About a dozen die.
To keep your kids safe firefighters say don't rely on screens. They're actually designed to come out easily in case of a fire. Move furniture, including beds, away from windows.
Don't open your windows more than 4 inches and install window locks. The locks are simple to install, cost as little as $5 and are available at most hardware stores. Right now, the Everett Fire Department is giving them away for free at their headquarters at 2801 Oakes Avenue.
Firefighters say the four falls so far this year have them especially worried.
"Concern goes through our minds that four have already happened this year and we haven't had warm weather," said Doniger. "With the warm weather we expect that number to climb and we would like to prevent children from falling out of windows."
With that warmer weather fast approaching firefighters are urging parents not to wait to get window locks. They say a simple lock will provide protection and peace of mind.
"We want to educate parents, caregivers, and grandparents of young children that there's a tool out there they can use to prevent children from falling out of windows," said Doniger. "It's just so simple."