Wednesday, May 27, 2009

2009 Safe Kids Week May 25 - 31


A new review of child injury research from Safe Kids Canada demonstrates that Canadian homes may not be as safe for children as many parents mistakenly believe. According to a new Harris / Decima survey on home product safety unveiled today as part of the national Safe Kids Week campaign, the majority of Canadians (86 per cent) assume the products they buy for their homes are safe for the family to use. This is not always the case. While products used every day by adults have a purpose, these same products can become dangerous when used incorrectly by children.

Between 1990 and 2007 there were over 1.6 million emergency room visits for children under the age of 19. In the last 10 years nearly half of these (46 per cent) were as a result of product-related injuries. However, according to the survey results, nearly half of Canadian parents (49 per cent) feel children are rarely injured by home products. In reality, there are 18,000 emergency room visits each year as a result of Canadian children who have been injured by products found in and around the home.

"Children are particularly vulnerable to home product-related injuries, often using normally safe products in ways they were never meant to be used," says Pamela Fuselli, executive director of Safe Kids Canada, the national injury prevention program of The Hospital for Sick Children. "The majority of Canadians incorrectly assume the products they use in their homes are safe - especially if they've never had an incident - but this is not the case. Parents and caregivers need to consider how a child sees different products in the home and anticipate how they could be harmful if used improperly."

Danger in disguise:
Injuries to children by products found in and around the home are common throughout all age groups - not just younger children. In fact, as children grow they are at risk for different kinds of injuries from various home products.

Risk for children ages 0 - 4 years: FALLS FROM FURNITURE
Young children are at risk for falls from beds (i.e. bunk beds) and furniture such as tables, chairs and couches. Between 1990 and 2007, more than 5,403 injuries from bunk beds were reported. While bunk beds are functional and allow for maximum use of space, injuries from a fall from a top bunk were almost twice as likely to require hospital admittance than other injuries. Only allow children over age 6 to use the top bunk and install padded carpeting in rooms where bunk beds are used. Thirty per cent of Canadians have owned bunk beds; however 10 per cent of Canadians do not believe they could cause injury to a child.

Risk for children ages 5 - 9 years: TOPPLING FURNITURE
Whether climbing furniture to reach items they want or to turn on the television, children ages 5 - 9 years are at risk of injury from toppling furniture such as televisions, dressers, wall units, bookcases and water coolers. Between 1990 and 2007, children's injuries from toppling furniture, televisions and larger appliances averaged approximately 9,000 cases per year. Specifically, more than 100 children visited the ER each year from toppling televisions alone. Televisions need to be kept on low, sturdy furniture - never on dressers - and safety products like angle-brackets or furniture straps can be used for better security. Nine per cent of Canadians do not believe toppling furniture could cause injuries to children.

Risk for children ages 10 - 14 years: BACKYARD EQUIPMENT
Older children are at risk for injuries from backyard equipment such as playground sets. Approximately 25 per cent of injuries to children occur on home playground equipment. Falls and strangulation are the leading causes of injury to children on backyard playground equipment. Playgrounds should be surrounded by a deep, soft surface such as wood chips or sand to help cushion a child's fall, plus in order to prevent strangulations, drawstrings on children's clothing should be removed, and scarves should be tucked into clothing, before children play on playground equipment.

Keep Your Home S.A.F.E.

  • See products around your home through the eyes of your child and anticipate how a child might use it differently. Keep potentially dangerous products out of reach.
  • Ask yourself if the products you purchase are appropriate for your child. Look at the size, surface and remove any strings. Remember, the smaller child, the bigger the product.
  • Find products that follow safety standard seals such as CSA or ASTM when choosing an item for your home.
  • Educate yourself on products that have been recalled and contact Health Canada if you have a concern at 1 866-662-0666. Their website,, has extensive information on product recalls, product advisories and children's products.Another excellent resource is Canadian Product Recalls.


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