For many children, the supposedly safe home is the place where they injure themselves most frequently. According to the latest data analysis by the KFV (Austrian Road Safety Board), every year there are around 41,600 accidents involving children in the home. The causes for these are usually banal and could be prevented by adhering to simple safety measures.
Vienna, 30. October 2014
On average in Austria, every day 114 children under the age of 15 injure themselves so severely in the home that they have to be treated in hospital - this adds up to around 41,600 child accidents annually. These accidents do not occur on the roads, on the way to school or a friend's house, but in the child's own home. Contrary to widespread popular belief, only 2 percent of all child accidents happen in road traffic - but 26 percent happen in the home. Particularly for babies and toddlers, accidents in the home represent the biggest danger. In the age group of children under five years of age, around 75 accidents occur daily. Speed and range of motion increase exponentially at this age. Children's urge to explore, combined with unsecured stairs, open doors or windows, as well as inattentiveness, can become incalculable sources of danger within seconds.
„Children need a lot of movement for their healthy development. They crawl, run, romp and climb - smaller injuries are usually a part of daily life," explains Dr. Othmar Thann, Director of the KFV (Austrian Road Safety Board). „But unfortunately, there are also accidents so severe that the little ones have to be treated in hospital. Every single one of these accidents must be prevented in future.“
Falls as the most frequent cause of accident
In actual fact, accidents in the home are not coincidences - they have causes that are usually quite banal. Often, an inattentive moment on the parent's side, a ringing telephone or a pot boiling over on the stove is enough to draw attention away from the child for a moment and before long the damage is done. The most common cause of accidents is falls from heights, e.g. the bed or changing table, making up around 37 percent of all injuries among children below the age of 5. Even a small height can result in serious injuries in case of falls among young children. In second place are falls on even ground, such as tripping or slipping (approx. 13 percent of under fives), but also burns and scalding (13 percent of under fives) as well as collisions with objects (approx. 9 percent), which are also frequent. The risk hotspots number one in the home are the living and bedrooms: 63 percent of child accidents (children below the age of 5) occur in these rooms; 22 percent of accidents occur in the kitchen and 7 percent on indoor stairs.
Recognising risks and preventing accidents
„Through increasing parents' risk awareness and some simple safety measures, homes can quickly be made safe for children and accidents can be avoided," knows Thann. For example, windows should always be equipped with window restrictors. Most suitable are restrictors that are already integrated into the window or door handle and can be opened only with a key.
Children are inquisitive and pieces of furniture are tempting to climb on, especially when they have a little protrusion, which makes them all the more enticing for kids. When wardrobes or dressers aren't secured stably, they can easily tip over. In addition, parents should always ensure that there are no chairs or shelves that could serve as climbing aids near windows. In homes with small children, safety guards for sockets and drawers, edge protectors, stove and staircase safety gates should be the norm. Tripping hazards such as lose carpets should be avoided at all costs.
„Parents have to perform a balancing act every day: they cannot leave their children unsupervised, but at the same time they shouldn't limit them in their development and their urge to move about," concludes Thann.
Initiative against child accidents
VISION ZERO 2020: Child accidents are preventable!
No child killed or severely injured in Austria! This is the ambitious objective of the KFV initiative Vision Zero 2020. In accordance with the motto "Full attention - Zero accidents!" Austria will be declared a child-safe area. Targeted information and exciting campaigns are to increase awareness for protecting out little ones and child accidents are to prevented through practical prevention measures.
KFV safety tips: