Accidents, premature death and illness in under-5s

Accidents, premature death and illness in the under-5s is an important issue. Children under 5 have the most accidents in the home with boys are more likely to have them than girls. Over the next few weeks Rosecroft Health and Safety is raising awareness of how accidents can happen and how these can be prevented.

Eustace de Sousa, Deputy Director in the national team for Children, Young People and Families in Public Health England says “unintentional injuries are one of the main causes of premature death and illness for children in England. Every year in England, 60 children under the age of five die from injuries in and around the home, which is one in twelve of all deaths of children aged one to four.”

He goes on to say that “there are also 450,000 visits to A&E departments and 40,000 emergency hospital admissions in England each year because of accidents at home among under-fives.”

Accidents, premature death and illness in the under-5s is an important issue
Accidents, premature death and illness in the under-5s is an important issue

The facts and figures

All facts and figures below come from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa) webpage titled Accidents to Children. This link contains to their website contains more information.

  • The largest number of accidents happen in the living/dining room.
  • The most severe injuries are heat related accidents and falls from height.
  • Every year more than 67,000 children have accidents in the kitchen – 43,000 of these are aged between 0-4 years.
  • Every year more than 58,000 children experience an accident on the stairs
  • Around 10 children die as a result of falls each year – this includes windows and balconies and stairs. 
  • At least 33 young children across the UK have died because of looped blind cords since 2001
  • Rospa is aware of at least 14 deaths involving disposable nappy bags items since 2001. This includes babies suffocating after a nappy sack covered their mouth and nose, or choking after putting a nappy sack in their mouth.
  • More than 28,000 children receive treatment for poisoning, or suspected poisoning accidents every year.
  • Around 500 children, mainly under fives, are admitted to hospital and a further 2000 attend A&E departments every year as a result of bath water scalds.

Social deprivation, accidents and the under-5s

Childhood injuries are closely linked with social deprivation (Child Accident Prevention Trust). The Child Accident Prevent Trust says that children from poorer backgrounds are five times more likely to die as a result of an accident than children from better off families – and the gap is widening. The reasons they give are:

  • unaffordable safety equipment
  • buying cheaper products that don’t comply with safety standards
  • literacy 
  • bringing up children alone
  • maternal depression
  • risk-taking behaviour by young people
  • families who are homeless or living in overcrowded homes
  • lack of car ownership
  • living on streets that drivers use as ‘rat runs’ to avoid congestion on main roads.

The five most preventable accidents

The CAPT quote 90% of the most serious preventable accidents to the under-fives as falling into five main areas:

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