Window Safety Education Advisory Committee Meeting

Summary Notes

May 8, 2008

Attendees: Richard Lockrem, Mark Mikkelson, Kathy Coen, Erin Petersen, Michael Fischer, Ken Moody, Karen Linner, Jan Auger, Gina Hatanpa, Mary Kay Stevens

Unable to Attend: Sandi Robinson, Jim Krahn

MDH Staff: Sheran McNiff, Jon Roesler, Mary Jo Chippendale, Pat Gerbozy

Student Intern: Alicia Fuller

Introduction and Overview
Sheran McNiff opened the meeting and thanked the committee members for their willingness to serve. Committee members introduced themselves and briefly told the group how their work related to window safety.

Sheran summarized the purpose and the goal of the advisory committee. In 2007, new legislation known as Laela’s law was written to address residential window safety requirements. The legislation directed the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to create a safety program to raise awareness of the precautions needed to prevent children from falling through open windows. The charge to the committee is to advise the Minnesota Department of Health on developing an educational window safety awareness program to prevent children from falling through open windows.

Overview of Agenda
Sheran gave a brief overview of the meeting agenda. The purpose of the meeting is to provide background information that will serve as a foundation for the work of the committee. The following topics will be addressed:

  • Laela’s law
  • Current window fall data and data collection methods
  • Overview of the Family Home Visiting (FHV) program at MDH

The advisory committee was encouraged to explore ideas and strategies for providing window safety awareness education to parents and caregivers of young children.

Legislation Review and Background
Richard Lockrem from Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (MDLI) provided background information on the component of Laela’s law requiring MDLI to adopt rules for window fall prevention devices as part of the Minnesota State Building Code by July 1, 2009.

Richard is Chairperson for the Window Fall Prevention Advisory Committee. The purpose of the committee is to develop recommendations for the rule language regarding screens, window locks and a window safety device. It is anticipated that the committee will meet one more time.

Family Home Visiting at MDH
Mary Jo Chippendale, Supervisor of the Family and Women’s Health Unit at the MDH, did a presentation describing the Family Home Visiting program at MDH.

The Family Home Visiting program takes a preventive approach to foster healthy beginnings for children. Some of the goals of home visiting are to promote family health and economic self-sufficiency, prevent child abuse and neglect and promote positive parenting and resiliency in children. Home visits provide an opportunity to utilize a home safety checklist for teaching parents about safety.

A discussion followed the presentation. Some of the topics mentioned were:

  • Using portions of the Home Safety Checklist at each visit
  • Providing window safety education at pediatric visits
  • Asking  home visitors what they need to help them promote safety
  • Updating the FHV Home Safety Checklist

Home Safety Checklist
The Home Safety Checklist was developed in 1990 and was designed for children from birth to five years of age. The last update was in 2004. There is one checklist question about window safety. The language in the checklist guidebook is being revised to reflect current window safety standards.

Mark Mikkelson, Ken Moody, Michael Fischer, Kathy Coen and Erin Petersen volunteered to review the MDH Home Safety Checklist question and guidebook content addressing window safety.

Data and Data Collection Methods
Jon Roesler, Injury Prevention Unit Epidemiologist at MDH, did a presentation describing window fall data collection methods and current data on injuries related to falls from windows.

Data from 1993-2007 was obtained by examining narrative fields from four data sets within the statewide Minnesota Trauma Data Bank. Key words searched were “window”, “screen”, “story” and “storey”. Nine hundred narratives were identified. There were 193 total unintentional window falls, with 19 fatalities. There were 151 children under 10 years of age, with four fatalities.

Additional methods to capture window fall injuries will be implemented in the future. These might include:

  • Refining case definitions
  • Categorizing injury typed: Traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, cases from trauma system
  • Searching newspaper clippings, doing chart reviews and doing fatality reviews

Mike Fischer, Jon Roesler and Kathy Coen offered to search for additional data sources.

Formats, Vehicles and Audiences for Promoting Window Safety Education
The advisory committee members engaged in brain storming to identify possible vehicles and formats for promoting window safety education. It was noted that visuals are effective in communicating key messages. For instance, using a four inch ruler visual to illustrate the maximum safe opening for a window is an example. The following vehicles and formats were suggested: 

  • Window safety education as part of pediatric visits
  • Handouts at a county fair or the State Fair
  • Home Safety Checklist
  • Classes for baby sitters and nannies
  • Emergency & Community Health Outreach (ECHO) DVD
  • Resources online
  • Include in FVH training programs
  • Mailer or brochure family home visitors can leave at doors if family not home
  • Literature in clinics
  • Home safety kits for new home owners at closings
  • Home safety kits for different audiences
  • Welcome wagon information about home safety
  • Media push in spring/summer for promoting window safety awareness

The following audiences were suggested for window safety education:

  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Media
  • Preschools
  • Early Education
  • Head Start
  • Child proofing “experts”
  • Pediatricians
  • New window buyers
  • Family home visitors and families served
  • Pregnant women
  • Babysitters and nannies
  • Firefighters and police officers

There was a consensus that all the key window safety messages were already developed and a suggestion to use existing resources. The following window safety resources are available:

  • National Safety Council has free brochures on their website
  • Andersen Windows has an activity book called “Look out for Kids” and other resources
  • Minnesota Department of Health has the Home Safety Checklist
  • “Kid’s Can’t Fly” (Boston)
  • Minnesota Department of Education website: http://www.parentsknow.state.mn.us/ – Debbykay Peterson

Meeting Logistics
There was a general discussion on future meeting logistics. Rather than have another face to face meeting in the near future, the next steps will be coordinated via email and phone. Other options for meetings are conference calls or using WebEx. Decisions regarding the need for meetings will be made as needed.

Next Steps

  • Send Home Safety Checklist and Guidebook to Mark Mikkelson, Ken Moody, Michael Fischer, Kathy Coen and Erin Petersen for review and feedback
    • The guidebook revision was reviewed and finalized.
  • Explore having window safety materials at state fair
    • The brochure: Keeping the Promise of Safety was ordered for the MDH State Fair booth.
  • Add window safety and advisory committee information to FHV website, and include links to resources and Injury Prevention Unit at MDH
  • A Window Safety section was added to the MDH Family Home Visiting website under Home Safety Resources. It contains our April News release, links to information and resources on window safety and the MDH Injury Prevention Unit.
  • Advisory committee information was added, as well. This includes the meeting agenda, committee roster and meeting notes.
  • The link to the website is: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/fh/mch/fhv/safety.html