BACKGROUND: Specific information about the supervision of young children with injuries related to falls is limited. In this study, we describe the supervision and physical environment of falls resulting in medical care in the emergency department. METHODS: We enrolled a convenience sample of 108 children younger than 7 years with fall injuries. RESULTS: The average age was 3 years, and 56% were male. Seventy-six (70%) were a fall from a height including 16 that involved stairs. Among caretakers in a nongroup setting (n = 95), most (61%) were supervising more than one child. The attention to the child was holding or playing with the child (13%), observing (45%), usually constantly, or listening for the child (19%); 9% reported no supervision at the time of the fall. Thirty-two percent stated they were touching or within reach of the child. Of falls indoors (n = 56), the supervisor was in the same room as the child for more than half of cases. There was no association between the number of children supervised and fall type (height vs. same level). When compared with those with same level falls, children with falls from a height were more often supervised with listening or no supervision (vs. observation, holding, or playing with the child) chi(2), p = 0.004. CONCLUSIONS: Many children were supervised at the time of their fall. Most caretakers had visual contact, and up to a third were touching or within reach of the child. The strategies used in these apparently low-risk situations were insufficient to prevent the falls we report.