Posts tagged ‘injuries’

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

4 November, 2013

The countdown is on, November 5 here we come!

The big night is nearly upon us and soon the cold night sky will be lit up by spectacular fireworks of all colours, shapes and sizes.

Fireworks show on Independent DayIt’s a family occasion full of whizz-bangs and excitement that keeps everyone entertained, and while many of you will be attending an organised firework display, there will be others who will be holding their own at home. This is why it is a smart move to brush up on the Firework Code – essential reading for adults who are going to be handling fireworks.

Planning a firework display should not be rushed. There’s a lot to consider both before and after the fireworks have been set off! Ask yourself, is your garden big enough for the fireworks you are buying and seriously consider if your garden can cope with having a bonfire? Lighting it too close to a fence or shed could spell disaster. Do you have a safety plan in place in the event of an emergency? Have you set up an appropriate cordon? Young people should watch and enjoy fireworks at a safe distance and follow the safety rules for using sparklers. Remember, sparklers should not be given to children under five-years-old. All fireworks are explosives which have the potential to cause injury and damage if they are misused. This is why adults should help children and young people understand the dangers and share the important message that fireworks are not toys or missiles.

Each year, RoSPA hears about people being injured by fireworks and the traumatic experiences victims have gone through, including lifelong scarring and years of treatment. This is why it’s important that families ensure that fireworks are handled only by adults and treated with respect.

About half of these injuries happen at family or private parties and about a quarter in the street or other public place. A much smaller proportion – around 10 per cent – of the injuries happen at large public displays. Strictly speaking, attending an organised firework display is the safest option.

A rogue firework exploded from inside Ben's jacket, setting his shirt on fire in the process. Ben has since undergone seven skin grafts and is continuing to receive steroid injections to help stretch and soften the skin.

A rogue firework exploded from inside Ben’s jacket, setting his shirt on fire in the process. Ben has since undergone seven skin grafts and is continuing to receive steroid injections to help stretch and soften the skin.

Amy McCabe, whose son Ben was injured at a street firework display, has called on the public to choose the safer option of attending an organised display. Ben was four-years-old when he was left with permanent scarring after he was hit by a firework at the display held in a residential cul-de-sac in Cumbernauld, near Glasgow.

The rogue firework exploded from inside his jacket, setting his shirt on fire in the process. The firework, which had fallen over in the wet grass after being lit, flew off into the crowd at such speed, that initially spectators were none the wiser. It was not until Ben started screaming in pain that people realised he had been hit. Despite Ben’s jacket being zipped up to his chin moments earlier, the firework had somehow found its way inside. Surgeons told Ben’s mother Amy, 37, that her son would be scarred for life after suffering third degree burns to his chest, neck, under his right arm and behind his left ear. Ben who is now six-years-old has since undergone seven skin grafts and is continuing to receive steroid injections to help stretch and soften the skin.

Data collected across Britain in previous years shows that, on average, around 1,000 people visit A&E for treatment of a firework-related injury in the four weeks around Bonfire Night, with half of the injuries being suffered by under-18s. The minimum age for buying fireworks is 18 across the UK. Only buy fireworks from a reputable retailer and ensure the packaging carries the ‘CE’ mark or is marked with ‘BS 7114’.

RoSPA’s fireworks website – www.saferfireworks.com – provides details on UK law, tips for setting up a display and the Firework Code:

  • Plan your fireworks display to make it safe and enjoyable
  • Keep fireworks in a closed box and use them one at a time
  • Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary
  • Light the firework at arm’s length with a taper and stand well back
  • Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
  • Never return to a firework once it has been lit
  • Don’t put fireworks in pockets and never throw them
  • Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators
  • Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire
  • Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.

Have a wonderful time and wrap up warm! I hear it might be a chilly one!

Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s public health adviser

24 July, 2013

The danger of scrimping on fireplace installation costs

We all want our homes to look fantastic and price cuts to fireplaces and large televisions in recent years are very tempting. Most people love a bargain, but when buying wall-mounted televisions or fireplace surrounds, the focus is often on the price of the product and not the wider costs of having them safely installed in the home.

HomeFor a television this can mean paying up to £100 for an appropriate bracket and an additional £50-£100 to have that bracket properly fixed to the wall by a professional. For fireplace surrounds, safe fitting by a professional can add more than £100 to the overall cost of the product.

The tragic case of four-year-old Matthew Green, who was killed when a fireplace surround fell on him, has prompted the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to raise awareness in this area of safety, which unfortunately often gets overlooked.

The HSE issued a specific warning about modular, stone or artificial stone fireplace surrounds and the importance of their safe installation.  The key issue is about the fireplace surround falling, particularly onto children.  Toddlers can also try to climb up these surrounds, which can bring them crashing down onto the child.sofa_girl2

Individual components of these fireplaces can weigh more than 50kgs and the mantelpiece may also have a significant overhang, projecting forward from the lintel.  Unless fitted in a secure manner, this makes the mantel, in particular, liable to topple off the lintel.

RoSPA has been aware of problems with fireplace surrounds for the past few years and we are concerned that this seems to be developing into a significant issue.  Our advice is to do three things when buying one of these products:

  • Seek professional advice BEFORE buying the product.  Get assurance that the product you intend to buy is suitable and safe for your home
  • Get quotes for the fireplace surround AND fitting in advance.  Ensure that the combined cost is within your price range
  • Get the fireplace surround fitted by a professional.

In recent years, RoSPA has also issued warnings about the dangers of big, unstable flat screen televisions falling or being pulled onto toddlers, causing deaths and serious injuries. We are pleased to note that this issue appears to have been accepted by a number of retailers who are now promoting their professional installation service, encouraging homeowners to spend a few extra pounds on getting their expensive new television professionally installed.

money_notes

Additionally, there are now safety straps that can be bought for less than £10 to secure screens that are on top of cupboards and other areas, to stop them from toppling over.

In summary, both fireplace surrounds and televisions are normally perfectly safe at the point of purchase.  It is when they are fitted that they then become unsafe, especially if proper installation is not given the priority it deserves.

Yes, this can cost more, and yes, this may mean a wait until a professional can fit the product. But these are small prices to pay when you consider the injuries and deaths that unsafe installations have caused over the years.

For more information about safety advice, please visit www.rospa.com.

Philip LeShirley, RoSPA’s product safety adviser.

19 February, 2013

Getting to grips with an indoor mobility scooter – one man’s first-hand account

How many of you own a mobility scooter? RoSPA believes that outdoor mobility scooters fulfil a valuable and important function. However, as with all forms of transport, using mobility scooters create some risk, for both the users and for other people. We occasionally receive calls from people concerned about being nearly knocked down by mobility scooters in the street, and although these calls are relatively low in number, they do occur regularly.

mobility scooter injuries accidents

RoSPA believes that outdoor mobility scooters fulfil a valuable and important function. However, as with all forms of transport, using mobility scooters create some risk, for both the users and for other people.

There is little hard evidence about the extent of accidents and injuries involving outdoor mobility scooters, beyond occasional reports, and this makes it difficult to identify the most effective ways at preventing mobility scooter accidents. The Government recently committed to collecting more data and this is welcomed, as it will help to develop current initiatives to be more effective at preventing mobility scooter-related injuries and accidents.

We spoke to 87-year-old Dennis Brooks, who got in touch to share his experience of using indoor mobility scooters. This is his story:

“With the growing preponderance of elderly people in our population today, I would imagine statistics would show a matching increase in the number of accidents in the home.

Certainly I, an 87-year-old semi-invalid, now recognise the necessity for greater mental awareness in simple manoeuvres such as getting up from a chair, but many of us have also to consider various illnesses such as diabetes which can affect one’s balance or other abilities.

In recent years, this coming to terms with an ageing body has been accompanied with a desire to compensate: if I can’t move like I used to, let’s find some form of transport. And while we’re at it lets have some fun.

There are a wide range of scooters available today and the market is of course growing, especially in the second-hand section! I chose a lightweight model which enables me to get around the house as well as the garden and can be dismantled into four sections which can fit in the car boot. It cost £400 second-hand when new models were around £1,400. Today, I see it is available at £400 new. From the safety viewpoint, the first priority is to recognise that scooters, especially the lighter, nippier ones are more like a motorcycle to ride than a car: you have to be aware of your bodyweight, and there are no brakes, unless you have a class III which can be driven on the road under license, but those are not so suitable for home use.

Scooters are battery driven, and there is a very noticeable difference in handling them when the battery is freshly charged. The torque in the driving wheels can be quite surprising so that an unthinking driver might feel he’s had a good push in the back. This dissipates after a while, but it’s in a very dangerous state. More important I feel is the design of the forward/reverse controls. Looking along the handlebars from the side view of my scooter, these controls are around the ‘five o’clock’ position immediately in front of the user. When I want to reach a cupboard on the wall say, I sometimes stand up on the platform of my mobility scooter and l have been in a position many times when my clothing has touched the forward control. Yes, yes, of course. I should have switched off the controls, but as many people keep telling me: “You’re getting on a bit now, your memory’s going!” True. Which is why I feel the designers should take another look at this.”

Some guidance from our public health adviser Sheila Merrill:

It is important that professional advice is sought before buying any type of mobility scooter. If you intend to use an indoor mobility scooter, look around your home beforehand to make sure that you have the room to move around on it safely and that it will not be blocking any obvious escape routes. Walkways and main movement areas will need to be kept clear of clutter, it may also be best to remove rugs to allow for easier movement.

17 October, 2012

Hair straighteners – hot enough to fry an egg and can scar for life!

When thinking about injuries which occur to children in the home, how many of us have considered the everyday hair straightener as a danger?

Alfie Vance Too Hot to Handle hair straighteners Northern Ireland RoSPA

Alfie Vance was just seven months old when he accidentally fell face first onto a pair of cooling hair straighteners. Within a matter of seconds his delicate skin was burnt between his eyes and on his forehead. Alfie has been left with a permanent scar.

We use them on a daily basis and think nothing of regularly styling our hair to temperatures exceeding 200 degrees; but what happens when these styling devices accidentally come into contact with a child’s skin? Quite frankly, the outcome is horrifying!

A new campaign has been launched this week in Northern Ireland to raise awareness of the dangers hair straighteners can pose to children, causing burns which can require hospital admission and surgical intervention, including plastic surgery.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and Home Accident Prevention Northern Ireland (HAPNI) are working in partnership with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust on the Too Hot to Handle campaign, funded by the Electrical Safety Council (ESC). It follows a rise in the number of children attending A&E at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children with hair straightener burns.

Figures from the Children’s Hospital show that 17 children aged between three months and nine years attended A&E at the hospital in 2009-10 with hair straightener burns. This represented nine per cent of the 187 children who attended with “thermal injuries” during that year. The average age of the children admitted with hair straightener burns was 18 months.

Nicola Vance, 25, from Northern Ireland, had never really considered hair straighteners to be a risk to her child, that was until an accident occurred leaving her son with a permanent scar.

Alfie Vance Too Hot to Handle hair straighteners Northern Ireland RoSPA

“Alfie was lucky that he didn’t lose his eyes, although he has been scarred for life. If the hair straighteners had been hotter, they would have peeled off his forehead” – Nicola Vance.

On September 8, 2011, Nicola was at home and busy straightening her hair in her bedroom with her son Alfie, then aged seven months, sat beside her on the bed. After switching the hair straighteners off and placing them on a heat resistant mat on the bed, what happened next just took a matter of seconds.

As Alfie tried to move himself along the bed, he fell face first onto the cooling straighteners and was picked up almost immediately by his mother, but a couple of seconds was all it took for Alfie’s delicate skin to be burnt between the eyes and on the forehead. Children’s skin can be 15 times thinner than adults’ skin and while the most common location for a child to sustain a serious hair straightener burn is on their hand, injuries have also been sustained to the head, arm and foot.

Nicola said her son, now 19 months, was lucky the damage caused by the straighteners hadn’t been more serious, although Alfie has been left with a permanent scar between his eyes.

“Alfie was lucky that he didn’t lose his eyes, although he has been scarred for life. If the hair straighteners had been hotter, they would have peeled off his forehead,” she said.

Since the accident, Nicola has ensured that her hair straighteners are switched off straight away and kept in a heat resistant bag, out of the sight and reach of Alfie, in a separate room where he doesn’t have access.

Hair straighteners can take as long as 40 minutes to cool down and are capable of frying an egg, as this video demonstrates:

Remember, it doesn’t always take a flame to burn, but burns caused by hair straighteners ARE preventable!

Ita McErlean, RoSPA’s home safety manager in Northern Ireland

4 October, 2012

Motivated by tragedy, campaigning dad launches student road safety campaign

There are many honourable people who when faced with tragedy and heartbreak, endeavour to make a safer world for future generations.

Jon-Paul Kerr car accident Peugeot Student Road Safety Awards 2012

Jon-Paul Kerr was tragically killed in a traffic accident 20 years ago. His father Paul hopes the Peugeot Student Road Safety Awards will educate schoolchildren about danger on the roads.

At the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), we cross paths with many of these admirable characters, such as Paul Kerr, 68, who has just launched the UK’s first ever student road safety campaign with parliamentary backing.

Driven by the untimely death of his 17-year-old son, Jon-Paul, in a traffic accident 20 years ago, Mr Kerr was spurred into action to raise awareness of driving safety among young people, because the driver involved in the crash was an 18-year-old who had passed his driving test just a fortnight earlier.

RoSPA and car company Peugeot are both sponsoring the Peugeot Student Road Safety Awards and RoSPA’s chief executive Tom Mullarkey headed down to Westminster for the official launch with Mr Kerr on September 25.

For the first time, 11 to 18-year-olds nationally are being asked to create unique road safety projects that will raise awareness of this life-saving issue to their peers – a generation of future drivers.

The winning projects will even be considered by the Department for Transport (DfT) as future road safety campaigns.

Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond, parliamentary under-secretary at the DfT, is also backing the awards, along with MPs Chris White (Leamington and Warwick) and Jeremy White (Kenilworth), plus road safety and youth organisations.

Paul Kerr Jon-Paul Kerr Peugeot Student Road Safety Awards

Paul Kerr, pictured left, with Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA’s chief executive, MP Chris White (front, middle), Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond and Tim Zimmerman, managing director of Peugeot UK. Photo: Anthony Upton.

The Minister said he believed that empowering young people with a sense of responsibility from an early age would help drive down fatalities and serious injuries on UK roads.

Five people a day died on British roads last year, so Mr Kerr’s motivation and creativity to save lives and prevent injuries is a welcome and much-needed asset to the country.

Each fatality costs £1.78m and, sadly, 16 to 19-year-old drivers are the most at risk.

These awards were born out of Mr Kerr’s realisation that there is a lack of education for schoolchildren about danger on the roads.

Mr Kerr, from Warwick, said that there were over 25,000 people killed or seriously injured on UK roads last year, which was the first annual increase since 1994, and added that he “hoped and prayed” this initiative would help to bring this unacceptable figure down.

He added that developing the Student Road Safety Awards had in some way been a way of “coping with my loss”.

The awards start with competitions based on the 38 BBC local radio station areas across England, giving students an opportunity to “think outside the box” and come up with creative projects which will then be judged by a panel in each region.

Winners of the area heats will then go forward to the final in London, where students will present their projects to a panel of road safety experts from the DfT, road safety units and professional bodies.

For more details on the awards and how to enter, go to www.peugeotstudentroadsafetyawards.co.uk.

Alison Brinkworth, RoSPA’s communications officer

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