What did we find in our child home injury report?

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Child safety in the home

Children are naturally curious and the home can be a wonderful place for a child to explore and learn. The home is also somewhere we want to feel safe and we also need to make sure it’s a safe place for children to play. The dangers in our home can be separated from children but accidents can still happen. So to better understand the size of the problem of child safety in the home, we did some research to answer some important questions. These were:

  • What causes a child injury in the home?
  • How are children injuring themselves in the home?
  • Are the injuries significant or minor?
Child injury for emergency depatment presentations

What causes a child injury in the home?

Child injury from falls

45% of hospital admissions are from accidents like children tripping, slipping, and falling off play equipment, a bed or a chair

The most common reason children go to an emergency department and are admitted to hospital is from a fall. These are mainly from tripping, slipping and falling off things like play equipment, a bed or a chair. So yes, our research has confirmed that a cheeky monkey jumping on the bed could lead to a hospital visit, not just a call to the doctor!

Parents can help avoid a fall by supervising children and removing trip hazards. Playground safety should include shock-absorbing surfaces, conduct regular checks and maintain the equipment and make sure the equipment is age appropriate and not too high.

Child injury from poisoning

if a child needs hospital treatment from poisoning, it’s likely to be serious and involve a stay in hospital

Poisoning was the fourth most common reason children were admitted to hospital. These cases were mainly due to accidental poisoning from medicine or a chemical substance. Of all the hospital admissions, 6% were due to a poisoning however only 1.5% emergency department presentations were from poisoning. This suggests that if a child needs hospital treatment from poisoning, it’s likely to be serious and involve a stay in hospital and not just a visit to emergency.

To help avoid poisoning, all medications should be clearly labelled and kept well out of reach of children. Avoid calling medication “lollies” and try not to take medication around children because they can imitate adults.

Child injury from a fire, burn or scalds

child burn and scald injures most commonly involve hot drinks, foods, cooking oils, water or household appliances

Injuries caused by a fire, burn or scald were also part of the top 5 reasons children are taken to emergency.

Prevent these sorts of injuries by identifying and removing things that could cause burns and scalds. Keep hot drinks, hot foods, cooking oils, and household appliances out of your little one’s reach wherever possible. Do your research on the hazards in your home or consider first-aid training to minimise injury severity. You can also reduce the water temperature feeding into the house to 50 degrees to reduce the risk of scalds.

Child safety in the home: which age group is at most risk?

Inforgraphic showing child injuries in the home each year
Child at home with an injured foor

Every year about 115,000 kids under 14 are taken to the emergency department. On average a staggering 57,000 of these youngsters hurt themselves in the home. That’s over half the capacity of the MCG! The proportion of injuries that happened in the home was highest for children aged 1-2 years with injuries being less common as children get older.

each year, the number of children attending an emergency department for an injury that happened in the home would fill more than half the MCG

Most child injuries that happened in the home needing a visit to the emergency department were for children aged 0-4 years (60%). Deaths were fortunately rare with an average of around 15 deaths a year. About half of these were for children aged 0-4 years and were mainly due to fires, burns or scalds.

The breakdown of boy and girls was fairly evenly split with figures slightly higher for boys (56% of emergency department presentations, 57% of hospital admissions and 55% of deaths).  

What injuries are children getting?

Children spend over 2,700 days in hospital each year at a cost of around $4 million

The top reasons for a visit to the emergency department were for an open wound (24%) or fracture (15%). Open wounds and fractures are also the most likely reason children are admitted to hospital (30% open wounds and 25% fractures). Burns were the second most common reason children stayed in hospital (17%). This translates into more than 2,700 days in hospital at an annual cost of around $4 million.

Child injury in the home research report

The full child injury report that was released in June 2016 and identifies the level and type of injury that occurs to Victorian children in the home.

iStock.com/Rachel Donahue

Written by Elvira Lazar, Research and Policy Officer
June 08, 2016