Safety-related news stories from this week


Blind cord death – A toddler has died after becoming tangled in the looped cord of a vertical blind in a bedroom of his home in Plymouth. The youngster, aged 21 months, was found strangled early on Friday evening. It is thought he had reached the window space after climbing on to a chest of drawers. (Plymouth Herald). Meanwhile, RoSPA’s blind cord safety campaign is featured in the Sunday Mercury – encouraging more parents to apply for free Make it Safe packs.

The Sunday Mercury reported several house fires at the weekend. Two men died at their home near Nottingham on Saturday morning, while a woman suffered the effects of smoke inhalation after a fire ripped through her farmhouse in Ross-on-Wye. In addition, a disabled pensioner was saved by her dog after it woke her up as flames spread through her Nottingham home. They both escaped unharmed. A 33-year-old man and his six-year-old daughter have died after a fire in the kitchen of their family home in Telford. It is thought the fire started in the kitchen and may have burnt itself out. An investigation is underway. (D. Telegraph / Metro)

Boy, 14, choked on memory stick cover – RoSPA is quoted in the Yorkshire Post, which reports on the death of a 14-year-old boy in Beverley last December. He choked on a memory stick cover, Hull Coroner’s Court heard. Verdict: accident.


Football star banned from the road – Birmingham City footballer, Marcus Bent, has been banned from driving after he was caught speeding at 110mph on the M5, near Oldbury. He was banned for 56 days and ordered to pay £1,210. (Sunday Mercury)

Coach in nine-vehicle crash on motorway – The M11 motorway was brought to a standstill yesterday after a crash involving four lorries, four cars and a coach near Stansted Airport. An elderly coach passenger is in a life-threatening condition, and there were several minor injuries. (Nationals)

The Daily Express reports that Jon Snow was knocked off his bicycle in central London last week when a driver opened his car door without looking, sending him crashing to the ground. He escaped with a sore elbow and sore ego; but was much cheered a few days later, saying: “The chap who knocked me off my bike has sent me an exceptionally good bottle of wine. I could build quite a cellar this way.”

Elderly driver’s wrong turn causes panic on motorway – An 87-year-old man from Lockerbie caused panic on the M6 in Cumbria after driving for six miles down the fast lane in the wrong direction. When police eventually managed to make him pull over and off the road, somewhat surprisingly they released him without further action. (D. Telegraph)


In nuclear news – The Daily Telegraph reports that Japanese school playgrounds in the Fukushima area are to be tested for radiation as children return to classes in the aftermath of the nuclear crisis. The Independent says that the Japanese government has set its first radiation safety standards for fish after contaminated water was released into the sea. The Guardian reports that the UK Government’s plans to build new nuclear power stations will be delayed by at least three months so that lessons can be learned from Fukushima.

Fire engines stop attending some alarms – The Daily Telegraph reports that Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has stopped sending its engines to investigate some alarms in order to cut costs. It will test a new procedure which will see a fire safety officer alone responding to some automatic alarms to cut the “significant drain on resources” caused by false alerts. This seems reasonable when you read:

25 firemen sent to save cat – When a cat became stranded on a roof, the local fire service dispatched five appliances and 25 firemen to rescue it. The decision, apparently driven by rules for “working at height” is thought to have cost £10,000 – although Suffolk Fire Service says it was no more than £250. Suffolk County Council defended the action, claiming it was in line with health and safety rules. (D. Telegraph / Metro)

Graduate left brain damaged after 999 crew waited two hours – A 33-year-old woman was left with severe brain damage after she was forced to wait nearly two hours for paramedics, who were parked just 100 yards away. Because the address had been red-flagged as “high risk”, a crew just seconds away was ordered to wait for a police escort before attending. (D. Mail)

Hero boys defy 999 operator to rescue man from icy canal – Two friends, aged 19 and 20, saved a drowning man by ignoring the health and safety advice of the ambulance service and jumping into a freezing canal in Bristol. They called 999, and attempted to reach him with a stick, but the man was too far away and kept going under, so they boys jumped in and saved him. (D. Express)

M&S “exposed shoppers to deadly asbestos” – Marks and Spencer failed to protect customers completely from asbestos during the refurbishment of branches in Plymouth, Reading and Bournemouth, Winchester Crown Court heard. M&S denies six charges of failing to ensure the health and safety of its staff and others. The trial is expected to last up to 15 weeks. (D. Telegraph)

Battle over £100,000 trip – Tower Hamlets Council, which is being sued for up to £100,000 by a woman who tripped over an uneven paving stone, is fighting the case, insisting it is not obliged to keep the pavement “like a bowling green”. The 31-year-old woman from east London tripped over in 2005, injuring her knee, and has apparently “endured disability”. (D. Telegraph)


Woman dies after blading fall – A woman died after suffering brain injuries in a roller blading accident. The 44-year-old fell backwards during her first outing on in-line skates, striking her head on a footpath in Darlington. She was not wearing a helmet. Though she had two emergency operations to remove clots from her brain, her family made the difficult decision to turn off her life-support machine at the weekend. (Times)

Surfers’ paradise lost as “danger reef” shuts – An artificial reef that cost more than £3million and was supposed to turn Bournemouth into a surfers’ paradise has been declared unsafe and closed after inspectors found it was producing dangerous undercurrents. The reef, which was constructed in 2009, is made of 55 submerged sand-filled bags, which are believed to have been displaced and need to be repositioned. Remedial works are expected to be carried out soon. (D Telegraph)

Mountain rescue teams condemn iPhone navigators – Ramblers who use their smart phones to navigate and have no idea how to read a map are causing the number of emergency call-outs to rise by 50 per cent, mountain rescuers claim. Lake District rescue teams said younger walkers relied too heavily on phones equipped with navigational “apps” and satnav technology. (D. Telegraph / D. Mail)

Have a safe and FUN weekend in the sun!

Vicky Fraser

RoSPA’s Press Officer, Web Editor and Resident Blogger

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