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Accident prevention for children

Accidental injury is one of the biggest single causes of death in the UK for children over the age of one. More children die each year as a result of accidents than from illnesses such as leukaemia or meningitis.

Every year, one million children under the age of 18 are taken to accident and emergency (A&E) units after being involved in accidents in the home. Many more are treated at home or by their GP. Many of the accidents that happen in and around the home can be avoided. By identifying and understanding potential accident risks in the home, you can take some basic safety steps that will keep your children safe and give you peace of mind.

Where accidents happen

Accidents can happen anywhere in and around the home, but common places include the kitchen, bathroom and the stairs. Accidents in the kitchen and on the stairs are often the most serious.

Most childhood accidents happen in the late afternoon and early evening, in the summer, during school holidays and at the weekends.

Who is at risk?

  • All children – due to their inquisitative nature and need to explore.
  • Children up to the age of four are most likely to have an accident in the home.
  • Over the age of four they are more likely to have an accident on the roads.
  • Boys are more at risk than girls.

Causes of accidents

There are potential hazards in every home, such as hot water, household chemicals, fireplaces and sharp objects. Some house designs, such as those with balconies and open staircases, can also contribute to accidents.

Young children are not able to assess the risks all these things pose.

Children are inquisitive and their curiosity can lead them into situations where accidents can happen. The types of accidents children have in the home are often linked to their age and level of development. At an early age, babies are able to wriggle, grasp, suck and roll over. As they grow (reaching the ages of six months to a year old) they may also be able to stand, sit, crawl and put things in their mouth.

As children get older they can walk and move about, reach things that are higher up, climb and find hidden objects. With their new-found sense of freedom and movement, toddlers can move quickly and accidents can happen in a matter of seconds.