NICE calls for safer homes and roads to cut the number of child injuries and deaths
Taking simple steps to make the home safer, such as fitting smoke alarms and window restrictors, could help to reduce the number of children who die or are seriously injured from unintentional injuries every year, says NICE.
Injuries in the home are the leading cause of unintentional injuries for children under-5, including falls, burns and scalds.
Children from disadvantaged backgrounds, such those in low income families and those living in social or privately rented housing, are most at-risk of an unintentional injury.
Yet, the vast majority of cases in the home can be prevented by carrying out home safety assessments and through the provision of home safety equipment.
NICE has today published three pieces of complementary guidance which aim to keep children and young people safe from serious harm. These consider strategies to prevent unintentional injuries; home safety assessments and the provision of safety equipment; and road design.
The guidance on strategies and home safety calls for local authorities to develop local agreements with housing associations and landlords to ensure permanent home safety equipment is installed and maintained in all social and rental dwellings.
Heather Ward, Chair of the Programme Development Group (PDG) that developed the strategies guidance, said: “This new guidance on strategies recommends some low cost measures that can be adopted by landlords in the home, like installing a thermostatic mixing valve.
“This controls the temperature of the water coming into the bath. The idea is that it prevents very young children from being scalded when they are being bathed. It's already in the building regulations for new houses to be fitted with these valves but we would like to see them installed by landlords into existing properties where there are young children.
“Given that it can cost up to a quarter of a million pounds to treat a scalded child, not to mention the scarring for life that these children endure, then it's a very good measure to implement.”
Listen to Heather Ward discuss the new NICE guidance to prevent unintentional injuries:
Professor Mike Kelly, Director of Public Health at NICE, added: “Our guidance on home safety assessments is about identifying and offering help to households at greatest risk. We know that simple safety equipment for example, stair gates, and smoke alarms are effective in preventing deaths and serious injuries.”
The third piece of guidance focuses on road design and recommends that 20mph limits, 20mph zones, and traffic calming measures are introduced to reduce speed or make routes safer.
Professor Catherine Law, Chair of the Public Health Interventions Advisory Committee at NICE, said: “Road collisions are the biggest cause of deaths from unintentional injuries for children under 15, and yet many of these can be prevented with a range of relatively simple measures.
“We should be looking to introduce traffic calming measures on routes that are frequently used by children, such as the route to school or to the park.”
Errol Taylor, Deputy Chief Executive of The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “RoSPA is delighted with the publication of this guidance from NICE. In particular, it reinforces the urgent need to tackle home accidents which are blighting so many young lives. We fervently hope that everyone who has a part to play in reducing home accidents takes this guidance to heart and acts on it quickly.
“We look forward to working with NICE and other organisations to see these recommendations become realities, to save lives and reduce injuries and benefit children and their families across England.”
24 November 2010