Archive for ‘Child Safety’

14 January, 2016

How safe are baby slings for a newborn? A mother shares her tragic experience.

Marianne Matthews, from Harrow, was celebrating the birth of her first child Eric when, within weeks, he had died after having been carried in a baby sling. Marianne explains what happened.

I write this blog in memory of my first child Eric, and with the hope that this message will help prevent more tragedies like ours.

Baby Sling story Eric Matthews first days with parents Marianne and Bob Matthews

Parents Marianne and Bob Matthews with Eric when he was first born.

Eric was four-weeks-old when he became unconscious while I was carrying him in a stretchy wrap baby sling – soft fabric that wraps around the chest and waist and holds baby, allowing a parent to keep their hands free as they go about their everyday tasks.

As a new parent, you get marketed at relentlessly with baby products. I wasn’t fully aware of the risks involving baby slings, and you never think these kinds of tragedies are something that will happen to you. The dangers of slings were not mentioned in the antenatal classes we attended, or in any of the baby books we read. Maybe because baby slings are newly popular, safety warnings aren’t yet part of the standard information given to expectant parents.

I bought a stretchy wrap sling online. It came with minimal instructions and had no safety label.

baby carrier baby sling

The safest method is in a carrier that keeps the baby solidly against the parent’s body, in an upright position.

It was Christmas Eve 2013 and Eric was quite unsettled so I put him in the sling and took him out for a walk to the local shop. He started to get a bit hungry and I tried to breastfeed him whilst carrying him. I then decided to go home. At the time I thought Eric was just falling asleep.

Everything happened so quickly and quietly I didn’t realise that something was very wrong. He had either choked or got into difficulties. By the time I got back, he had stopped breathing.

We called 999 and tried to resuscitate him. Sadly Eric never regained consciousness, and passed away in our arms a week later on New Year’s Day 2014.

We loved Eric so much and wonder how things went so wrong. Eric was our first child, and as new parents, we were finding out what to do for the first time. Our inexperience was to have tragic consequences, sometimes love just isn’t enough.

Eric is now a big brother, our little girl Sola Eden was born in October 2014, and she really is a miracle for me and my husband Bob, especially as we had her when we were still grieving. I have learned a lot from Eric. I’ll never use a baby sling again. Safety is an absolute priority.

Baby sling story Marianne Matthews with husband Bob and daughter Sola Eden

Marianne and Bob Matthews have celebrated the birth of daughter Sola Eden since the tragedy.

My advice is not to use a baby sling for a newborn baby – wait a few weeks until they are stronger and have more neck control. Don’t be tempted to multi-task by feeding a baby in a sling and check for safety standards and warnings before choosing a product.

The part that concerns me most is that some slings are marketed as ‘breastfeeding slings’. In my opinion, the feeding position is unsafe for baby (particularly a newborn) to be carried in, as they need to be kept upright to keep their airways clear. A baby trying to feed may make similar sounds to a baby struggling for breath, or make no sounds at all, and tragedy can occur in a minute or so. Added to this, the use of a sling while out and about may mean there are more distractions, and parents may not be fully aware of what’s happening.

I hope other parents find our story helpful, and it can in some way prevent another avoidable death like Eric’s from happening.

Marianne Matthews.

You can read more on RoSPA’s detailed advice on baby slings at the RoSPA website.

amber teething necklace baby

RoSPA is aware of risks attached to these products because a sling’s fabric can press against a baby’s nose and mouth, blocking the baby’s airways and causing suffocation within a minute or two.  Suffocation can also occur where the baby is cradled in a curved or “C-like” position in a sling, nestling below the parent’s chest or near their stomach.

Because babies do not have strong neck control, this means that their heads are more likely to flop forward, chin-to-chest, restricting the infant’s ability to breathe. RoSPA advocates products that keep babies upright and allow parents to see their baby and to ensure that the face isn’t restricted. Your baby is safest travelling with you in a pram or pushchair in which they are lying flat, on their back, in a parent-facing position.

4 December, 2014

Drowning – the silent, global pandemic

Ten key actions to prevent drowning (WHO report)

Ten key actions to prevent drowning (WHO report)

Every single hour, of every single day, 40 people around the world die from drowning.

This preventable killer is among the top 10 leading causes of death in every region of the world, and sadly it is children under five who are at the greatest risk of what is, essentially, a global pandemic.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) last month published its Global Report on Drowning, which now recognises the serious extent of the problem.

It’s a long-awaited and welcome report that sets out just how serious the issue is, and lists suggestions as to what can be done so that the global community can start to tackle the problem. Such is the enormity of the issue that it’s astounding that this is the first report and strategy of its kind to be published.

We hear about other terrible blights in the press every day, but drowning is the silent pandemic. An estimated 372,000 people die every year but the true figure is likely to be much higher, possibly as high as 50 per cent more in some countries, due to the methods of data collection used.

Regardless, the estimated death toll still puts drowning at two-thirds of that of malnutrition, and more than 50 per cent of that of malaria. Despite this, we have targeted prevention methods for these two issues, but none for drowning.

And let’s not kid ourselves that this is solely a Third World issue, as despite more than 90 per cent of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries, the problem also exists in developed nations where walking next to or being near water leads to a high number of incidents of drowning. The majority of drowning happens in inland water, in everyday situations. Within poorer nations, travel and fetching water are the major factors where drowning occurs.

 

 

The WHO report outlines 10 key actions to prevent drowning, simple steps which could help to save thousands of lives every year:

  1. Install barriers controlling access to water
  2. Provide safe places away from water for pre-school children
  3. Teach school age children basic swimming, water safety and rescue skills
  4. Train the public in safe rescue and resuscitation
  5. Strengthen public awareness
  6. Set safe boating, shipping and ferry regulations
  7. Manage flood risks and other hazards
  8. Coordinate drowning prevention with other sectors
  9. Develop a national water safety plan
  10. Address priority research questions with studies.

On top of these key actions, the report also outlines four recommendations that nations can implement to begin to address the pandemic, recommendations which RoSPA supports.

Nation states should A) implement proven prevention strategies tailored to their own circumstances, B) take steps to improve the data available, C) aim to develop a national water safety plan, and D) band together to form a global partnership for drowning prevention.

Together, we can tackle an issue that is so easily preventable that it should not even be a problem. Hundreds of thousands of people are dying needlessly each year, and, as the report states, the time to act is now.

David Walker, RoSPA’s leisure safety manager

10 November, 2014

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

8 August, 2014

RoSPA’s top 5 tips to keep your sleeping baby safe

A new baby is the greatest gift imaginable. They bring joy and happiness (not to mention sleepless nights!) to parents, but with this gift comes added pressure.

baby_nappyNew mums and dads will have many questions buzzing around their heads.

Things like where is the safest place for baby to sleep? Should anything be in the cot with baby? What are the risks that babies face when they are asleep?

This blog looks at some of those issues and offers The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ top 5 tips to keep your sleeping baby safe.

 

1. Room temperature

Many parents may be aware that a baby’s room temperature should be regulated at between 16°C and 20°C as one of the key risks they face when going to sleep is “thermal stress”, or overheating.thermometersmaller

Having a basic room thermometer can often help in monitoring this as it is not always obvious to an adult what temperature a baby is comfortable at.

Thermal stress is thought to be one of the factors that can contribute towards Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) with “at risk” babies less able to adapt to changes in temperature.

Keeping a baby on their back with only suitable bedding in the cot is therefore recommended by many charities to avoid overheating. Keeping a baby’s head uncovered is also important as the head helps with temperature regulation.

2. Avoid soft toys and soft bedding in a cot

No soft toys or other products which cocoon your baby in any way are needed in a cot – these can, in fact, cause a hazard.toys

Snuggly and soft are often words used when marketing children’s bedding, but remember babies need ample oxygen all around them for their brains to develop.

Soft pliable bedding can mould around a baby’s face but they won’t know how to remove the bedding for themselves from positions of danger.

Sleeveless sleep sacks are a good choice as they keep a baby warm without the risk of them slipping underneath blankets in the cot.

If using blankets, make the cot up in the feet to foot position to help minimise the risk of your baby being able to slip under the covers.

3. Don’t clutter with extra products

Before adding extra products to a cot, which in themselves can add risk, it is worth remembering that the cot is the only piece of baby equipment designed for babies to be left in unsupervised (as they sleep).

All other equipment, like buggies and high chairs, are used under parental supervision.  As such, modern cots that comply with the latest safety standards are designed to be as safe for babies as possible.

There are a lot of products on the market that purport to protect baby when in the cot.  Cot bumpers, for example, are soft materials that are designed to sit inside the cot and are often attached to the cot bars with ribbons in order to protect babies from injuring themselves against cot bars. They are also marketed as being useful in preventing babies from getting their limbs stuck between bars.

However, cot bumpers may pose other hazards in several ways.  The ribbon can pose a strangulation hazard and this has been linked to at least one death in the UK.

 The bumper itself can be used as a foothold by more agile children to escape the cot, leading to a risk of falling. Also, the material may restrict the amount of oxygen that the child intakes – a process known as “rebreathing”.

The most extreme risk is that cot bumpers could pose a suffocation hazard if a baby rolls over with their face against the cot bumper and is then unable to move.

Nap Nanny_Consumer Product Safety Commission Pic

A Nap Nanny that has been linked to deaths in America.

Another product raising concerns in America is Nap Nanny, which has, sadly, been linked to the deaths of six babies. These products are used to place the baby in a reclined position to sleep and can also be used to “strap” the baby into their crib or on the floor, ensuring that they do not move around when they sleep.

 Some babies have suffocated on the inside of the Nap Nanny while others have partly fallen or hung over the side and been trapped between the product and cot bumpers, leading to suffocation in at least one case.

There is also controversy surrounding sleep positioners – foam wedges that manufacturers claim are suitable for babies to sleep in and aim to keep baby in one fixed position.

Be aware that if a baby manages to turn their body or slip down, then these products also present suffocation, thermal heating and re-breathing risks.  Baby’s face can get stuck against the foam and there have been many baby deaths attributed to these products.

4. Look out for packaging

nappy-sack-posterBe aware of the packaging that these products arrive in.

I have seen some that are supplied in drawstring bags and these present a strangulation risk to a baby. This adds a hazard immediately into the home over and above the product inside the bag.

Nappy sacks – plastic bags to place dirty nappies in – are also a concern.

RoSPA is aware of at least 14 babies in England and Wales that have suffocated or choked to death on this product.

Babies naturally grasp anything and put it in their mouths, so always keep nappy sacks, other plastic bags and wrapping away from babies and buy them on a roll if possible.

 

5. Be aware of blind cords

Finally, RoSPA is aware of at least 28 child deaths caused by blind cords and most of these accidental deaths occur in toddlers aged between 16-months and 36-months-old, so it is something to bear in mind as your baby starts growing.blinds_boy

The main issue that as a toddler start to get mobile their head still weigh proportionately more than their body, compared to adults, and their muscular control is not yet fully developed, which makes them more prone to be unable to free themselves if they become entangled in a cord around their neck.

RoSPA advice is to:

  • move beds, cots, highchairs and playpens away from windows where there are cords and chains
  • make sure all blind cords are always secured out of reach of babies and young children
  • move furniture that children can climb up on away from windows that have cords and chains.

I hope these tips can help you make informed decisions and I’d also recommend visiting The Lullaby Trust website for more detailed safe sleeping advice.

Being a parent is not easy but there is help and guidance all along the way.  The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone and to ENJOY this time as they will be 15-years-old before you know it!

Philip LeShirley, RoSPA Product Safety Adviser

21 July, 2014

Your holiday checklist – don’t forget to pack the carbon monoxide alarm.

Swimming costume – check. Sun lotion – check. Inflatable lilo – check.

Your holiday packing is almost complete but you’ve got that nagging feeling that there is something missing from your suitcase.

Go safe and enjoy your holidays

Go safe and enjoy your holidays

Well, if you are heading off to a holiday apartment, cottage, caravan or even boat, you have most likely forgotten to pack one small item that could make all the difference to your long-awaited vacation – a carbon monoxide (CO) detector.

At The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), we recommend that people take a small, portable CO detector with them whether they are going home or abroad to prevent tragedies that we have sadly seen many times before.

Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer because you can’t see it, hear it, smell it or taste it, meaning its deadly fumes can act without families even realising it, often through the night while they are asleep.

The problem is that fumes can be caused by a faulty or badly-serviced gas and other fossil fuel-burning appliance, whether it’s a heater, gas stove, generator or even barbecue in an enclosed space.

Follow our tips for a happy, safe family holiday

Follow our tips for a happy, safe family holiday

Seven-year-old Christianna Shepherd and her six-year-old brother Robert, from Wakefield in West Yorkshire, died from carbon monoxide poisoning during a holiday in Corfu after a faulty boiler leaked gas into the hotel bungalow where they were staying in October 2006.

Last year, an Easter boating holiday turned into tragedy when 36-year-old mum Kelly Webster and her 10-year-old daughter Laura Thornton died after inhaling CO fumes as they slept on a moored motor cruiser on Lake Windermere in the Lake District. Investigators found that fumes from a generator, whose improvised exhaust and silencer system had become detached, had spread into the cabin.

So, when you get to your holiday home, here are three simple tips to remember:

  1. Take a portable CO detector to check for any signs of the dangerous gas – these can be bought for just a few pounds from most DIY stores but are priceless in terms of the lives they can save
  2. Make sure the premises are well ventilated and never use a barbecue inside
  3. Be aware of the symptoms and dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

RoSPA’s carbon monoxide safety website has more details on CO symptoms but the main signs to look out for include:

  • suffering prolonged flu-like symptoms – headaches, nausea, breathlessness or dizziness
  • the boiler pilot light flames burning orange, instead of blue
  • sooty stains on or near appliances
  • excessive condensation in the room

    Spot the signs of CO poisoning

    Spot the signs of CO poisoning

Just knowing a few of the signs to look out for will already have equipped you with some useful knowledge. This RoSPA video, below, highlights why being aware of carbon monoxide is so important.

 

I’m sure you will have a lovely break and I’ll leave you to get on with that packing. Oh, and remember, when summer is over, it will be time to arrange for that all important Autumn service to your boiler at home.

Alison Brinkworth, RoSPA public health support officer.

 

15 July, 2014

When you suffer a tragedy in your life surely you would want to help others?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m Joy Edwards, and in October 2010 both mine and my family’s lives changed forever.  On this morning my son, who was 8, walked into the twins’ bedroom and discovered his baby sister Leah entangled in a looped blind cord.

I ran into the bedroom, raised my daughter to try and slacken the cord and untangled her.  The ambulance was called and paramedics soon arrived and took over CPR on Leah.

The ambulance and paramedics took our little girl and we followed after in a police car.  When we arrived at the hospital I knew straight away the news was not good as there was a security man outside the room. Watching too many Casualty and Holby City programmes you learn the procedure.

Leah was so cold and the colour had already started to drain from her tiny face.  I willed her to wake up; she was never a very good sleeper and all I wanted her to do now was wake up so I could take her home to her siblings and twin brother.  The hardest thing I have ever had to do is tell her brothers and sister that she wasn’t coming home.

Our last photo of our daughter was in the September when she had her first ice cream. It’s a photograph we will treasure.

After her death I decided that it would not be in vain and was determined to raise awareness about the dangers of looped blind cords.

When ROSPA called and asked whether I would help with their campaign, I agreed without hesitation – well, wouldn’t you? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

ROSPA is a charity which relies on fundraising and charitable donations to raise awareness and prevent accidents.  Without donations they would not have been able to give away thousands of free cleats and safety packs to raise awareness and educate families on the dangers of blind cords.

They also campaign on risks around the home and the dangers of not wearing seat belts in vehicles, to name just a couple of things.

Accidents occur on a daily basis and many can be avoided.  Through raising awareness I hope the number of accidents can be reduced dramatically.

When I received a phone call to say I had been nominated for a RoSPA Guardian Angel Award I was out walking and I felt like I had a huge grin across my face.  All I thought of was “I am just a parent. Yes we had a terrible tragedy, but an award? Surely anyone in the same situation would do the same.”

When I start something I tend to carry on to the end. Even though new blind standards and regulations have been brought into force for manufacturers and fitters to adhere to, there is still more to do. Parents and grandparents who already have blinds in their homes still need to be educated on the dangers.

Joy AwardI was honoured on June 17 to be given the Archangel Award and was amazed at the standing ovation I received.

This is my first award and it has pride of place in our living room. Each time I look at it, opposite there is a photo of Leah smiling. I would like to think that she was proud too and that her death has prevented other families from going through the same heartache.

  • If you know of someone with an inspirational story like Joy, or someone who has worked tirelessly to improve the safety of those around them – whether they are a colleague, neighbour, friend or member of the community – we’d like to hear from you. Why not nominate them and show them just how much they are appreciated.
20 May, 2014

Aching bones can’t thwart charity Highland trek

For the past few months, Liz Lumsden has been sharing preparations for her West Highland Way walk in aid of a RoSPA child safety project. Here, she blogs about the tough 50-mile two-day trek itself.

Liz (far right), Donald (centre) and friends at the start of the walk.

Liz (far right), Donald (centre) and friends at the start of the walk.

Not many people will walk 25 miles in one day – and then get up the next morning and walk another 25! For me, that was the biggest challenge. I have done walks before of a similar length, but always had a day to recover before going back to work. To repeat the experience on a second day was not easy.

My son Donald and I had agreed to walk 50 miles of the West Highland Way to raise funds for the printing and distribution of The Birthday Party, a children’s book about safety. RoSPA wants every child starting school in Scotland this year to get a copy.

We began at 7am on day one with a climb out of Crainlarich before the terrain flattened out for a while during the seven miles over to Tyndrum. After a coffee we headed off over to Bridge of Orchy in time for lunch. We needed it – the next stage was a real climb and ended up on Rannoch Moor – 10 miles of desolation – before the long walk down the mountains to the only hotel for miles – the Kingshouse. We could see it from it about three miles away and kept thinking about the bath and the hot meal that were waiting for us.

I ached from head to toe by the time I crawled (almost literally) into bed that night. I didn’t feel much better the next morning, but there was no going back. It wasn’t a very appealing thought to get started as the rain had been pouring down most of the night and had only eased off a bit by 8am.

The group reach the all important half way point and stop for a spot of lunch!

The group reach the all important half way point and stop for a spot of lunch! Well deserved we say!

Waterproofs on, we were ready to complete the challenge. After a fairly flat start we had to climb the Devil’s Staircase. It’s tough, but thankfully doesn’t last for long and the following section is mostly flat or downhill into Kinlochleven. The sun even came out for a while.

We were able to enjoy lunch in the sun before popping into a cafe in Kinlochleven for coffee and white chocolate “rocky road” (my favourite!). The sugar rush kept us going on the long climb out of Kinlochleven and down through the most amazing valley before the final slog to Fort William.

Like the previous day, we could see where we wanted to be long before we reached it. The last section of the West Highland Way is on surfaces that are very unforgiving and our bones started to really ache with about five miles still to go.

We walked with friends who were fundraising for other charities and had a real sense of achievement when we crossed the finishing line. We all had friends and family to meet us and were receiving text messages during the last few hours encouraging us to “keep going”.

Donald and I love to walk, but this was certainly his biggest challenge to date and he completed it suffering from only one blister (I managed to avoid having any – thanks to the amazing properties of Vaseline!).

I managed to exceed my fundraising target, but we still need money for the project. Every £1 raised will mean three parents can share home safety messages while reading The Birthday Party to their children. You can still donate at www.justgiving.com/elizabeth-lumsden2 or by texting WWHW50 £2, WWHW50 £5 or WWHW50 £10 to 70070.

16 May, 2014

How safe are e-cigarettes?

We all know that smoking is one of the hardest habits to kick and most smokers have at some stage wished that a new invention would come along to get rid of their cigarette cravings.

E-cigNow electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, have emerged onto the marketplace and more than 2 million smokers in the UK have turned to them as a way to quit smoking tobacco.

As their use has tripled over the past two years, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has become increasingly concerned over safety issues reported about these products, particularly fire risks and the potential for children to be poisoned.

Whilst e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, new legislation is being proposed which will ban the sale of these products to under-18s in this country and similar plans have also been announced in the USA.

E-cigarettes use a small battery and atomiser to turn nicotine liquid into an inhalable mist that is an alternative to tobacco smoke. The water vapour is almost odourless and designed to be harmless to both the user and anyone else in the room.  They are often sold in flavours such as strawberry and in bright coloured packaging, both of which can be appealing to children.

There have been reports that very young children are copying their parents’ behaviour by putting e-cigarettes into their mouths when unsupervised.  This has led to a number of children being poisoned by ingesting the liquids contained in the e-cigarette.  Many parents are failing to realise that e-cigarettes should not be left unattended when children are around even though they are not “alight” like traditional cigarettes.

Very young children often copy their parents' behaviour.

Very young children often copy their parents’ behaviour.

Another area of concern is the risk of e-cigarettes overheating and catching fire, especially when they are plugged into a mains supply or a USB port and left to charge.  Last year, 68-year-old Evelyn Raywood was killed when a fire tore through her care home in Hasland, Derbyshire. Fire investigators ruled that a heated battery pack used overnight to charge her e-cigarette overheated and sparked a fire which sadly caused her death.

It’s important to remember that e-cigarettes are relatively new to the marketplace and there are no specific regulations governing their safety.  The cigarettes themselves do not currently need a CE Mark (a sign that shows consumers that a product should be safe).  As such, consumers should exercise caution when considering whether to buy or use these products.

The law also currently allows e-cigarettes to be smoked in public places. Following claims that e-cigarettes help to
normalise smoking, along with concerns that their use in public undermines the existing tobacco smoking ban, there have been proposals for a ban on their use in public places in Wales.

Here at RoSPA, we completely understand how difficult it can be to kick a habit like smoking cigarettes, but our message is clear – if you want to use e-cigarettes as a substitute for smoking tobacco then please be aware of some of the reported hazards associated with them.

Always buy them from a reputable retailer, avoid charging overnight if possible and keep them well out of the reach of children at all times.

I hope that this blog has been of use to you, and good luck if you are trying to kick the habit!

Philip LeShirley, RoSPA product safety adviser.

13 May, 2014

Safer Streets for everyone – join the movement, make a difference!

Here at RoSPA, we want to see safer streets that encourage walking and cycling not only because it helps to prevent injuries, but also because it has a positive effect on a range of health-related issues, including heart disease, mental health and air pollution.

PrintMaking these links between safer roads and wider health issues are crucial. They can have a big impact on families too. Imagine being able to make the journey to school by bike, scooter or on foot without fear of being knocked down by speeding traffic. How would your children feel? Energised, happy, healthy…the list is endless.

Helping to make this vision a reality is Sustrans – which aims to help people choose healthier, cleaner and cheaper journeys and enjoy better, safer spaces to live in. This week, Sustrans is launching a new campaign for Safer Streets and needs your support. The campaign is calling for:

  • 20mph default speed limits across built up areas – this will make everyone’s route safer
  • Dedicated funding for active travel – this will provide the resources needed to transform routes and invest in walking and cycling locally
  • Stronger duties and incentives on local authorities to develop routes and promote cycling and walking.

On the Sustrans website, you can find out more about getting support for making your street safer by creating a “DIY Street” – a tool to enable communities to take vital first steps to restore their streets for people and not cars.

Earlier this year, we unveiled new guidance for road safety and public health professionals to help boost the nation’s health. The report reveals that the greatest impact can be achieved when public health and road safety teams tackle shared agendas, such as working together to reduce the speed and volume of motor traffic or introducing road layouts that encourage safe walking and cycling.Sustrans_Safetoschool

And let us not underestimate the benefits of introducing 20mph speed limits in built up areas; lower speeds make crashes less likely and less severe when they do happen and are effective at protecting people, especially children, pedestrians and cyclists from being killed or injured. They also encourage more people to walk and cycle by providing a more pleasant and safer environment.

Councils are responsible for determining where 20mph limits should be introduced and they should take advantage of opportunities to implement them where they are needed. And this is where you come in! As part of the process, councils consult and engage with local communities and other stakeholders to make sure that safer roads are prioritised where needed and that residents have input into the schemes’ development. What are you waiting for? Get involved!

Duncan Vernon, RoSPA’s road safety manager

1 April, 2014

Shaping up for a challenge to raise funds for RoSPA

Liz Lumsden is midway through training to walk the West Highland Way for RoSPA. In her latest blog, she tells how an injury threatened to derail the venture.

Liz takes in the fresh air during her walk.

Liz takes in the fresh air during her walk.

I’m just £1,000 away from being able to print and distribute 60,000 children’s books with a safety theme. I need the money by the end of May so they will be ready to give to children starting school in Scotland this summer. I’ve already sourced £15,000 for the project.

My son, Kenneth, and I have been training every week to complete a 50-mile trek to raise funds for this child safety project. Just when I thought it was going so well, injury strikes.

We’ve walked the first 27 miles of the Way together (as well as some local canal walks) and had some great mother and son bonding time. He’s not long moved back from London and it’s been great to spend so much time with him.

However, Kenneth started to feel a twinge in his knee after having done a few miles of walking down steep inclines. It was brave of him to insist he was going to be fit for our big walk on 25th and 26th April, but unrealistic.

During last week’s training along the canal out of Edinburgh, his knee became really sore. He had to get a lift home while I continued with the remaining 14 miles. So, the decision was made. He is really disappointed but there are only a few weeks left to get fit for the walk and we both knew it wasn’t going to happen for him.

Donald Lumsden

Donald Lumsden

What to do next? The walk still has to go ahead – we need the money to publish the book.

I didn’t relish the thought of completing this walk on my own. It will be over some very difficult – and remote – terrain.

I was telling my younger son, Donald, about his big brother not being able to join me and he “stepped up” and offered to complete the walk. This will be great. Donald’s done the West Highland Way before, albeit not covering so many miles in such a short period, but I am confident he can do it.

He is 16 and still growing so his comfortable walking boots are now too small. A new pair will have to be bought and broken in.

By the time you read this, we will have done the middle stretch of the West Highland Way over the weekend, covering around 12 miles.

During the following weeks we will take every opportunity to don our boots and get out so we are fit for this major challenge.

Thanks to all who have donated to this great cause. If you haven’t yet, please consider putting even a few pounds into the fund. Donald and I really need your support. Please visit my fundraising page at www.justgiving.com/elizabeth-lumsden2.

When we begin our walk for real, we plan to feed updates into RoSPA’s Facebook page so you can all follow our progress at www.facebook.com/rospa.

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