The other day I was driving and an 18-wheeler in front of me had a sticker on the back of the trailer that said, “Safety by choice, not by chance.” I’ve thought about that since seeing it. I don’t think the companies designing, selling, and installing exposed picket fences live by this saying. If safety was a choice, modifications would have been made to ensure the safety of children, wildlife, pets, and families. Warnings would be prominent about the dangers. Parents first response upon hearing about Kade’s death would not be, “I never thought about that being a danger.”
I was contacted by a woman whose relative died at the age of 2 in Indiana. Ms. De Ross’s relative Sarah, died in the exact same manner that Kade did. Both Kade and young Sarah died in March. Kade on the 22nd and Sarah on the 24th. Sarah died in 1901. Her neck was broken when she became trapped between the exposed pickets on the fence.
Let that sink in. 1901. 117 years before our son died. I have heard many people make the argument that these fences have been around for a long time. Like that means that they are not dangerous and don’t need to change. How many other children have died just like Kade and Sarah? How many parents remained quiet in their pain and agony and didn’t speak up and advocate for fence changes? How many more children will we let die? I for one, think it is time to make change a priority! Simple modifications to exposed picket fences will make them flat topped eliminating the danger of entrapment or impalement. Adoption and enforcement of code standards by companies (designing, selling, manufacturing, and installing fences), city & state governments, and the Universal Code Council is all that is required. Fence safety standards actually already exist. At this time, they are just suggestions and not followed or used in so many places. In many cities and towns there are not even standards in place about fencing and safety in your community. Are you ok with your child playing on a playground with a fence that could kill them almost instantaneously? Look around the next time you drive through a neighborhood, past a park, pool, or restaurant playscape. Exposed picket fencing surrounds the areas you trust to be safe for your children, pets and families. Do you feel safe letting your children play around these fences knowing they have killed multiple children? We have been told about pets becoming hung between the exposed pickets and impaled on them. Everyday there are animal control and game warden calls about deer and other wildlife that has become trapped and killed, impaled and gutted, and injured on these fences.
I keep saying that another child can and will die like Kade did. I wasn’t sure if it had happened before to anyone else until last week. However, I found it hard to believe that with exposed picket fencing being prominent in many areas not just locally and nationally, but globally, for a long period of time, that no other child had died like Kade did.
I have attached the obituary Ms. DeRoss shared with me along with pictures of Sarah and Kade’s stones. I have to wonder if Sarah has found my Kade? They were almost the same age. So much life left to live. So full of life and adventure. I hope that they get to play and explore together.
Peter and Mary Steury (Sarah’s mom and dad), I want you to know, 118 years later I am crying tears with a shattered heart too. It is my mission to ensure that no other child dies like our babies did. Your daughter has not been forgotten.
Thank you to all the people who have made fence change a priority in your business, home, HOA, and city! There is still so much work to be done, but we have made a difference already.
Please continue to share Kade’s story and advocate for change. Children and families deserve to be safe and made aware of the dangers exposed picket fencing of any material poses to their safety. Please share with neighbors, HOA decision makers, home builders, city law makers, insurance companies, fence companies, contractors, business owners, sporting complexes, and anywhere else you see this type of fencing. Help make sure that no other child dies like Sarah or Kade! Make safety a choice, don’t leave it to chance.