Children can't fly: a program to prevent childhood morbidity and mortality from window falls

Am J Public Health. 1977 Dec;67(12):1143-7. doi: 10.2105/ajph.67.12.1143.


"Children Can't Fly" is a health education program developed by the New York City Department of Health to combat the high incidence of child mortality and morbidity due to falls from windows. The success of the program, begun in 1972, in drastically reducing death and injury persuaded the New York City Board of Health to amend the Health Code in 1976 to require that landlords provide window guards in apartments where children ten years old and younger reside. The law is the first and only one of its kind in the nation. The program has four major components: 1) reporting of falls by hospital emergency rooms and police precincts, followed up by counseling, referral, and data collecting by public health nurses; 2) a media campaign to inform the public and elevate their awareness of the hazards; 3) community education for prevention through door-to-door hazard identification, counseling by outreach workers, community organization efforts with schools, tenant groups, clinics, churches, health care providers, etc; 4) provision of free, easily installed window guards to families with young children living in high-risk areas. Significant reduction in falls resulted, particularly in the Bronx, where reported falls declined 50 percent from 1973 to 1975. The program is one solution to an urgent urban problem which other cities might consider to avert the loss of life and limb, and the corollary financial burden for hospitalization, rehabilitation, and maintenance of the injured and permanently disabled.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Home / prevention & control*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Humans
  • Legislation as Topic
  • Male
  • New York City
  • Pilot Projects
  • Protective Devices
  • Public Health Administration
  • Public Health Nursing
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control