Falls are by far the biggest single cause of accidents to children. In the UK it is estimated that every year over 1 Million accidents occur due to falls, some of these are extremely serious and most require A&E hospitals visits. There are approximately 8 deaths per year due to falls in the UK. In the US each year approximately 2.8 Million children had to visit the Emergency Dept due to falls and over 100 Children are killed.
Falls from height are typically from stairs, windows, balconies, trees, cycling and play equipment though quite a lot of injuries are falls on the same level (slips, trips and stumbles).
Falls Safety Tips
- High chairs must have a 5 point harness. Strap your child in every time.
- When carrying your child downstairs , carry them with one arm and hold the stair rail with the other. Do not be tempted to carry them with both arms without holding the rail.
- Do not use baby walkers
- It is advisable to install an appropriately certified stair gate at both the bottom and the top of the stairs in order to stop young children either going up or falling down the stairs. Keep the stair gates closed at all times.
- Teach your young child how to crawl downstairs backwards. This means they are less likely to fall down the stairs if they escape your supervision
- During sports ensure children wear the correct protective equipment
- The stair gate at the top of the stairs should not have a bottom bar. These are real tripping hazards and make the whole system completely unsafe. Some gates that are designed for preventing access to the bottom of the stairs are made with bottom bars but they are never to be installed at the stair top. Ideally buy both sets of stair gates without bottom bars.
- Toys or worn carpets are trip hazards on the stairs and must be eliminated.
- Stairs must have surfaces that have a good grip e.g. carpet or anti-slip surfacing. Never have polished wood or any other slippery surface.
- Ensure there are no objects that can be climbed that are close to windows especially the crib
- All windows should remain locked the majority of the time (but make sure the keys are in a convenient known place in case of fire). If locked ensure they are fitted with professionally fitted restraining mechanisms. These only allow windows to be opened a fraction of the full width but have a latch to allow full opening for escape in an emergency.
- Lower the crib/cot mattress immediately after your child is able to pull themselves up and remove any large toys they may use to climb on to escape!
- Ensure your child always wear a helmet when riding a bike
- Stair side rails must be robust with small gaps that do not allow small toddlers through. They should not have horizontal bars and be climbable and again never put anything (chairs, side tables) that could be climbed immediately next to them.
- The bottom of stairs should not have glass doors or panels nearby just in case a toddler were to fall
- Never allow younger children on the top bunk beds and make sure for even older children that a guard rail of sufficient height is fitted.
- Balconies and children do not mix. Keep them out. Try not to put anything on the balcony that can be moved and climbed upon
- Never allow children on ladders.
- Never leave a small child unsupervised on a nappy changing table and make sure that you use the restraining straps provided.
- Although children love to climb in trees and on climbing frames they are notorious for accidents. Ensure surfaces below are soft with matting and consider supervising if you decide that this activity is ok. Other Garden items should be checked for 'climb-ability' and the necessary precautions put in place.
This article has some helpful hints and advice on how to keep your family safe from the potentially devastating consequences of falls.