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“If a disease were killing our children in the same proportions as injury, we would be outraged and demand this killer be stopped.” 

C. Everett Koop, former surgeon general of the United States.

What are home accidents?

Literally, it means accidents that occur at home.

  • In that wise, a “home” is any type of house (including a farm, block of flats or caravan) together with its garden, yard, driveway, path, steps and boundaries. It need not be the home of the injured person. A “home” also includes any permanent or voluntary institution, such as a home for older people or student hall, but not a temporary or non-voluntary institution, such as a hotel, boarding house, hospital, nursing home or prison.
  • And “Accidents” are unplanned and unfortunate event that results in damage, injury, or upset of some kind

How common are home accidents?

·  Causes millions of injuries every year around the world. It is the commonest cause of death in children over one year of age.

·  Every year these leave many thousands of children permanently disabled or disfigured worldwide.

Who is affected?

  • Everyone is at risk but, children and older persons are more prone.
  • Males are more likely than females.

What causes home accidents?

·  The main cause of home accident is general negligence of safety at home.

·  Evidence shows that the principal causes of accidental injury in the home are falls, being struck by or collision with an object, being cut or pierced by an object, burns, scalds and poisoning

What lead to these causes?

oLadders and stools: Falling and tripping accidents

oClothing: tangle and chocking in own cloths

oCans and other containers: Sharp cans and shattering containers

oDesks, cabinets, shelves, tables and racks: Falling over, cabinets knocked over and racks dropping

oNon-glass doors and panel accidents: slamming doors on their own or other people’s hands and heads

oBathroom structures and fixtures: Slipping, falling and hitting our heads and back

oChairs, sofas and sofa bed accidents: People routinely and repeatedly fall of their chairs and sofas.

oBeds, Mattresses, Pillows: Falling off of beds and materials and pillow cause neck and back problems

oStairs, ramps, landings and floor accidents: Most common home accidents happened when walking up or down the stairs. Broken hands and legs are the usual, resulting injuries.

What do we do when they happen?

·  Who should act? =YOU, ..YOU and YOU‼!Everyone in the home must be aware of what to do:

  • First, Do not panic.
  • Stay clear of harm
  • Call for help if necessary- neighbours,  doctor, hospital or emergency service
  • Do CPR
  • Start moving victim to nearest hospital/ health facility immediately
  • Whatever the case, ensure victim get to the nearest physician, health expert within the shortest possible time.

Common Home Accidents & Management.

1.            Fall

Unstable gait of the toddler, presence of objects on floor, lack of supervision, curiosity of the children, etc.

Prevention of falls at home:

·  Fit a safety gate at the top and bottom of stairs.

·  Never leave tripping hazards on the stairs.

·  Stairs should be carefully maintained – damaged or worn carpet should be repaired or removed.

·  Make sure balustrades are strong and do not have any footholds for climbing.

·  Stairs should always be well lit.

·  Fit child resistant window restrictors but make sure you can get out easily in an emergency.

·  Do not put anything under the window that can be climbed on.

·  Furniture and tall kitchen appliances, at risk from being pulled over, should be secured to the wall.

2.            Fires

Children playing with matches and lighters frequently start house fires

Prevention of Fires at home

·  Keep matches and lighters out of sight and reach of children.

·  Always use a fireguard and secure it to the wall.

·  Extinguish and dispose of cigarettes properly.

·  Have an escape route planned, and practise it, in case of fire.

·  Fit a smoke alarm and check it regularly.

3.            Scalds & Burns

  • Scald by hot water, burn by fire, touch on hot objects such as cooking utensils, hot drinks, sunburns, etc.
  • Burns after contact with open fires, a cooker, irons, curling tongs and hair straighteners, cigarettes, matches, cigarette lighters, etc.

Prevention of Burns at home:

·  Never hold a hot drink and a child at the same time.

·  Never leave young children alone in the bathroom.

·  Put hot drinks out of reach and away from the edges of tables and worktops.

·  Encourage the use of a coiled flex or a cordless kettle.

·  Keep small children out of the kitchen whenever possible.

·  Run the domestic hot water system at 46°C or fit a thermostatic mixing valve to taps.

·  When running a bath turn the cold water on first and always test the water temperature with your elbow before letting a child get into the bath or shower.

·  Always use rear hotplates and turn the panhandles away from the front of the cooker.

·  Keep hot irons, curling tongs and hair straighteners out of reach even when cooling down.

4.            Glass-related accidents

Many children die following an accident with architectural glass, glass tumblers and bottles break.

Preventing accidents associated with glass at home

·  Use safety glass (laminated, toughened or glass which passes the impact test) in all replacement windows and doors – especially at low level. Laminated glass is good for safety and security.

·  Make existing glass safer by applying shatter resistant film.

·  Always clear up broken glass quickly and dispose of it safely.

5.            Poisoning

Food poisoning and accidental swallowing of drugs, detergents, insecticides, cosmetics, etc.

Prevention of Poisoning in our homes:

·  Keep medicines and chemicals out of sight and reach of children, preferably in a locked cupboard.

·  Wherever possible, buy products in child resistant containers.

·  Always store chemicals in their original containers.

·  Dispose of unwanted medicines and chemicals safely.

·  Avoid buying plants with poisonous leaves or berries or those that can irritate the skin.

6.            Suffocating and choking

Children can swallow, inhale or choke on items such as small toys, peanuts and marbles.

·  Accidental swallowing of foreign body, strangulation, covering of head by blankets, accidental suffocation by pillow while baby sleeps in a prone position, near-drowning etc.

Prevention of suffocation and choking at home:

·  Choose toys appropriate to the age of the child.

·  Ensure that small objects such as marbles and peanuts and small toys are kept out of reach of children under 3 years old.

·  Encourage older children to keep their toys away from their younger playmates.

·  Pull cords on curtains and blinds should be kept short and out of reach.

7.             Strangulation including blind cords

Looped cords such as blind cords and chains can pose a risk to small children.

Preventing Strangulation at home:

·  Don’t hang drawstring bags where a small child could get their head through the loop of the drawstring

·  Install blinds that do not have a cord, particularly in a child’s bedroom

·  Do not place a child’s cot, bed, playpen or highchair near a window

·  Pull cords on curtains and blinds should be kept short and kept out of reach

·  Tie up the cords or use one of the many cleats, cord tidies, clips or ties that are available

·  Do not hang toys or objects that could be a hazard, on the cot or bed.

8.            Drowning

Children can drown in less than 3cm of water. They should be under constant supervision when in or near any water.

Prevention of drowing at home:

·  Never leave children or babies in the bath unsupervised, even for a moment.

·  Never leave uncovered bowls or buckets of water around the home.

·  Paddling pools should be emptied and stored away when not in use.

  • Garden ponds should be filled in while children are small or securely fenced off. Take special care when visiting other

In Summary:

oAccident cannot be completely avoided, but its occurrence could be prevented.

oAdults should pay more attention to home safety and should clear any hidden “hazards” at home and teach children about safety.

oIf accidents happen, stay calm and call for help immediately.

Bibliography

  1.   The UK Fire Services Ambulance Command Training School. “Home Accidents Prevention for Children.” http://www.hkfsd.gov.hk/eng/source/safety/Children_home_accident.html
  2.   R. J. Haggerty, “Home accidents in childhood. 1959”. Inj Prev 1996 2: 290-298. doi: 10.1136/ip.2.4.290. Downloaded from injuryprevention.bmj.com on April 7, 2012 – Published by group.bmj.com
  3.   UK Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Castle Buildings, Belfast BT4 3S. “A Five Year Home Accident Prevention Strategy and Action Plan 2004-2009” www.dhsspsni.gov.uk
  4.   Dr. Vanessa M. Dazio, OTD, OTR SAFE Aging, Inc. 2006. “Tips to Prevent Home Accidents” www.safeaging.com
  5.   The Royal Society of the Prevention of Accidents
  6. . CDC National Center for Injury Prevention & Control. http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/osp/data.htm
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