Claudia Winkleman’s daughter – A tragic wake-up call to us all

Candles burning in the darkLast week, the nation was shocked by the appalling Halloween accident involving television presenter Claudia Winkleman’s eight-year-old daughter Matilda. While the specifics of the incident are still not clear, the incident nevertheless serves as a shocking reminder of both the dangers of naked flames, as well as the devastating effect accidents can have in general – particularly when young children are involved.

Every year, more than one million children under the age of 15 experience accidents in and around the home, resulting in a visit to our already overburdened accident and emergency units. Accidents are the most common cause of death in children over the age of one and every year they leave many thousands permanently disabled or disfigured. While falls account for the majority of non-fatal accidents, the highest number of deaths are due to fire.

Last year alone, 138 people in England were admitted to hospital after their clothing either ignited or melted, and as the case of Matilda Winkleman shows, an unattended flame has the ability of turning a happy family event into every parent’s worst nightmare in a matter of seconds.

Perhaps most tragic of all, is the fact that most of these accidents are preventable through increased awareness, improvements in the home environment and greater product safety. As RoSPA’s recent work with Intertek shows, there are simple steps that parents can take to prevent a similar accident, such as ensuring all children’s Halloween costumes, masks and wigs must carry a CE mark (which means they comply with the European Toy Safety Directive and should they catch alight, the rate of burning is slow), as well as removing naked flames by not having candles within reach of smiling pumpkinchildren and making sure all outfits worn by children are well-fitted and not too long or flowing. RoSPA’s website is full of advice and guidance on keeping your loved ones safe from harm.

RoSPA believes that no parent should ever have to suffer the agony and uncertainty Claudia Winkleman and her family are undoubtedly going through following this horrendous incident. That is why every year we campaign to stop the misery and heartache preventable accidents cause by providing information, advice and practical support to parents across the UK and beyond. If you would like to support RoSPA in our mission to stop accidents like the one Matilda suffered from ever happening again, please visit our fundraising page to see the enormous difference your contribution can make.

Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s public health adviser

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