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May172014

02:54:27 am

The Realities of Falls in Children

Falls in Children Can be DangerousThe Public Health Agency of Canada supplied some interesting information on falls in children:

Almost all falls in infants (children under the age of one) occurred at home (92.3%); the majority occurred in living areas and bedrooms (65.8%) or in the kitchen (14.4%).



In 1-4-year-old children, the home was still the prime location for falls (82.9%). Other locations included educational car dent repair Sheffield environments (most often day care centres) and commercial environments. Although children do not spend much time in the latter, these locations are not designed to accommodate their urge to explore.

After reaching school age, children spend less time at home. Nonetheless, half of all falls (51.8%) in the 5-9-year-old age group occurred at home. These children fell less frequently in living areas and bedrooms than younger children, but new locations began to appear: garages and backyards (17.3%). One-quarter of falls occurred at school (26.8%), most of these in the school yard or on the playground (18.8%).

In 10-14-year-olds, falls occurred with increasing frequency at school and in other locations. In 15-19-year-olds, falls occurred less frequently in educational environments (19.8%) and more often in road environments (20.3%).

Why should we care so much about falls in children? Falls are a tremendous drain on health-care facilities and health-care costs, are a leading type of injury that requires hospitalization, can affect the quality of life of the faller, can leave children permanently disabled, and in some cases can be fatal. Is that alarming enough to send up a red flag?

Falls in Children Under Five

Keep these tips in mind when little ones are underfoot at home:

Replace or repair unsafe products and equipment like bunk beds, baby furniture, chairs and tables, high chairs, cots, etc.

Make sure windows and balconies are equipped with the proper safety features and locks.

Always keep at least one hand on babies when they are on a change table. The same goes for babies laying on beds and other furniture. Little ones can easily roll and fall off spaces.

If change tables and other baby equipment have safety straps, use them. They are there for a reason.

Don't allow children less than six years of age to occupy the upper bunk in a bunk bed.

Don't put occupied baby seats or car seats on counter tops or on other furniture - they can easily get knocked off or rocked off.

Kathy Blair, a writer for SMARTRISK, a national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives, pointed out another concern found in the home, during an email interview, "The stairs can be dangerous as young children see them as a source of adventure, but lack the necessary motor skills to use them safely. They can also be dangerous for infants as there is a risk that a caregiver trips while carrying a baby up or down the stairs, often from trying to pick up something on the stairs at the same time. Keep clutter off the stairs and always have a free hand to hold onto the hand rail while climbing the stairs with your baby." Installing wall-mounted baby gates at the top and bottom of every set of stairs will reduce falls.

It's not just stairs at home that are a leading source of falls and injuries in children. Stairs in public places are frequent accident locales.

Another common fall in young children is from shopping carts. If you've ever heard the unmistakable thud of a child's head when it connected with the hard floor after falling from a cart, you won't forget it. Besides falling from the area where children are supposed to be sitting, falls occur while hanging onto the outside of the cart and when the cart tips over.

Falls in Older Children

As children get older, they tend to fall more often when doing recreational sports. In July 2006, a 15-year-old boy died after falling off his skateboard in Vancouver.

Alberta Health Services shares tips on how to prevent falls during recreation:

Look First: Help children to identify the risks by preparing and planning for the activity, allowing them to make smart choices.

Get Trained: Children can reduce their risk of injury by increasing their skill in the sport/activity. Take lessons and get instruction.

Wear the Gear: Have children wear protective gear every time they participate in a sport/activity. This may include helmets, pads, wrist and elbow guards, depending on the activity.

Falls from trampolines are a huge issue in this age group, especially because the injuries (usually spine or neck) can be serious.

Playground Injuries

Playgrounds are a common site for childhood injuries. Before you let children have free reign, take a look around the park. Ensure the ground under the apparatus is a soft material such as pea gravel, rubber, sand, or wood chips and that it goes to a safe depth.

"We know injuries from playground equipment falls are five times as likely to produce severe or complicated fractures as falls from a child's own height. We know the Toronto District School Board's equipment-replacement program has cut injuries in half, including severe injuries," as Andrew Howard, medical director, Trauma Program, Hospital for Sick Children and the chair of the national expert advisory committee for Safe Kids Canada, pointed out during a phone interview.

Falls from trees are another common childhood occurrence with sometimes devastating consequences. In late 2008, a 15-year-old Barrie, Ontario, boy fell from a tree to his death.

Annette Hoyles, Public Health Promoter for the Perth District Health Unit in Stratford, Ontario, summarized the issue best during a phone interview, "The main cause of home injuries is falls and most falls can be prevented. Children are curious and cannot easily recognize and avoid hazards. Therefore, they need extra protection and care. By supervising your children carefully and making their surroundings safe, you can prevent injuries."

For more information, check out: Protect Children From Falls From Windows and Balconies


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