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Fewer kids falling out of windows

 George Christopoulos fitted the spare room on the second storey of his home with a home-made, child-proof gate so his granddaughter could visit without him worrying about the three year-old falling out of a window.    As a retired window repairman, he knows how easy it is for inquisitive toddlers to tumble out of windows.    “You kidding?” he said. “From second storey? It’s three meters down. Even on grass, never mind cement, even on grass. Anything can happen.”    His concern is not baseless, as evidenced by data examined by the Canada Safety Council. Between 1990 and 2000, records from 15 children’s hospitals across Canada show 362 children ended up in emergency wards after falling from windows.     This year—in Toronto alone—10 children either have tumbled out of windows or from balconies since May.    Those numbers from Canada’s largest city led Ontario’s coroners’ office to investigate the matter.    “It seems pretty significant,” said Deputy Chief Coroner Jim Cairns, who added he’ll be looking at statistics from other Canadian cities with highrises to see if an inquest should be called.    There are no statistics that indicate how many children die from these falls every year.    Christopoulos engineered and patented his WindowGate not simply out of concern for his granddaughter.    Eight years ago, he heard about an Ontario girl who fell to her death from a window in a highrise apartment and he decided something had to be done.    Tinkering away in his garage in his spare time, he developed a metal gate which can fit over most apartment building windows. The gate protects children but still allows the flow of fresh air through the window.    He said most window screens become corroded after years of sun exposure and that safety stops, which prevent windows from opening fully, often are removed on hot days.     He took his device to officials at the city’s Licensing and Standards Department, as well as the Greater Toronto Apartment Association.    While every official he spoke with liked the idea, he learned there is no legislation making additional protection mandatory and discussions with officials ended after the initial meeting.    Bryan Byng, one of the department’s managers, said there are no requirements for balcony doors but windows must be restricted from opening more than 100 mm (four inches).    “It’s not in our legislation. We merely set the standard and then expect the owners of the apartment building to meet it,” he noted.    Christopoulos was selling WindowGates in a safety store until he learned he would be liable if a child fell from a window equipped with the device.    After making inquiries, he discovered the insurance to protect him would cost close to $24,000 a year. He already had spent a good chunk of his savings on creating the gate and wasn’t prepared to spend more.    “I’m so disappointed. There are more and more children every year that shouldn’t fall,” said the 70-year-old.

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