„When the lives of children are at stake, there are no compromises. Every single accident that can be prevented is a victory, because our children are our greatest treasure and we need to protect them in the best possible way. Let's not only make Austria the most child-friendly but also the most child-safe country in Europe," says Family Minister Dr. Sophie Karmasin, and she continues „with our education offers for parents in the form of webinars, brochures and videos, we want to provide additional support and information to parents." For years, the number of children injured and killed in Austria has been stagnating at a high level. "Information campaigns are more important than ever - education and sensitising must be clearly promoted," stresses Dr. Peter Thirring, Vice President of the Insurance Association VVO.
Child accident statistic: High accident rates also in 2014
Around 165,000 children were involved in accidents in 2014 (2013: approx. 160,000) in Austria. "Child mortality as a result of accidents in Austria remains at a rate of 20 fatalities per 1 million children under the age of 15, which is 20 percent higher than in Sweden, for example, where the rate is 16 (in 2011). There is also a high number of children who live in severe permanent damage cause by accidents," explains Dr. Othmar Thann, Director of the KFV (Austrian Road Safety Board). On average (2010-2014), one child under the age of 15 is involved in an accident every three minutes in Austria; every two weeks, a child dies as a result of an accident. This makes accidents one of the most frequent causes of death and serious physical damage in children and young people. "Through simple safety measures, a reduction of up to 100,000 child accidents annually would be feasible," says Thann.
Majority of accidents happens in the home or in close proximity of home
As the current KFV study shows, when parents think about their children's safety, they often view road traffic as full of dangers and their own home as a safe space. But reality paints a different picture: Only two percent of child accidents occur in road traffic. 75 percent of accidents happen in the home and during leisure activities (approx. 123,000 injured children under the age of 15 in 2014), and over 20 percent occur at school and travelling to and from school. The majority of accidents are falls. "Through increasing parents' risk awareness and some simple safety measures, homes can quickly be made safe for children and accidents can be avoided. The most tragic accidents - e.g. deadly falls from windows, which recur regularly - are those which could be prevented through appropriate measures," Thann appeals to parents. 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.
Recognising risks and preventing accidents
Child accident expert Univ.-Prof. Dr. Lars-Peter Kamolz, Head of the Clinical Department for Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery LKH-Univ. Klinikum Graz Hospital, adds: „Of course, small injuries are a part of growing up and the development of the child, and such injuries usually heal quickly. However, accidents in which children suffer severe injuries that lead to lasting damages or even death and are caused by lacking protection or safety measures are simply unforgivable. The majority of such accidents can usually be prevented very easily."
It is therefore all the more important to educate guardians as well as children about potential dangers through targeted measures. Through enhancing risk awareness among parents and by implementing simple safety precautions, many situations in daily life can quickly be defused, homes can be made child-safe very easily and accidents can thus be prevented. Because every single child accident that can be prevented is already an important step towards realising the "Vision Zero 2020".