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Keeping kids safe at home, at play, and on the road

Contents

I Overview of Child Injuries in Ontario
II Safe Kids Week: At Home, at Play, and on the Road
III Child Injury Prevention Training and Resources
IV Data Sources

--Submitted by Stephanie Cowle, Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre (OIPRC) and Julie Taylor, Parachute

I Overview of Child Injuries in Ontario

Injuries are a leading cause of death and hospitalization in Ontario, and children are a particularly vulnerable population. In 2015 injuries led to almost 300,000 emergency department (ED) visits for Ontario children up to 14 years of age. The highest ED-visit rate was among 10–14 year olds (1,508.7 per 10,000). In the same time period, over 10,000 children were hospitalized due to injury, with 0–4 year olds representing the highest rate (61.4 per 10,000).  

In 2015, the top reasons children were brought to EDs or hospitalized with injuries were falls, unintentional poisonings, and incidents related to bicycling, sports, and recreation. Falls at home were the number one issue across all age groups, particularly falls from furniture, falls on stairs, and falls from slipping, tripping, or stumbling.

When we move beyond falls, age-specific risks become apparent. For small children up to age 4, poisonings and burns stood out as significant issues in 2015. In the older age groups (5–14), children sustained an increasing number of injuries as motor vehicle occupants, cyclists, and sport participants. While injuries affect Ontarians of all ages, the data highlights how age and stage of development affect injury risk. These factors are important to consider when planning injury prevention initiatives.

The burden of child injuries, including the immense toll they take on families, emphasizes why injury prevention is a critical issue for public health in Ontario. The Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre (OIPRC) supports practitioners to build their capacity to reduce injuries and injury-related deaths in Ontario. The OIPRC is housed at Parachute, a charity helping Canadians stop the clock on predictable and preventable injuries. We are committed to raising awareness, developing evidence-based resources, and collaborating with partners to keep all Ontarians safe.

II Safe Kids Week: At Home, at Play, and on the Road

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Safe Kids Week, a national awareness week developed to bring attention to predictable and preventable injuries in children. The focus for 2016 is on top injury issues for children at home, at play, and on the road, including the common causes mentioned in the overview above.

Safe Kids Week is a timely opportunity to raise awareness and drive action to reduce child injuries in your community. Parachute has developed free resources for professionals and community members to download and use to coordinate Safe Kids Week activities. Community toolkits with additional items can be ordered for a minimal cost.

Key messages to promote during Safe Kids Week centre on evidence-based strategies for child injury prevention. These include:

  • Falls: Use wall-mounted baby gates, window guards and non-slip mats. Never use baby walkers with wheels. They’re banned for sale in Canada.
  • Choking/Strangulation: Keep objects like small toys, coins and batteries away from children and make sure to cut or tie up window blind cords or use cordless blinds.
  • Poisoning: Keep medications, cleaning products and other potential poisons under lock and key and away from a child’s reach. Even a small amount of medication can harm a child.
  • Playground: Choose playgrounds with a deep soft surface to better protect from falls. Children under five should play on equipment lower than five feet (or 1.5 metres.) Remember to remove clothing that might get caught in equipment, like drawstrings and scarves.
  • Water Safety: Swimming pools should have a 1.2 metre (4 foot) high fence with self- latching gate. Young children should always wear life jackets near water.
  • Car Safety: Check car and booster seats to ensure they’re installed correctly and are the right fit for a child’s height and weight.
  • Bike Safety: Wear a correctly fitted helmet, use bike lanes and be visible. Children learn safe riding practices through adult behaviour.

Safe Kids Week resources, including materials from past years, are available on Parachute’s website: http://www.parachutecanada.org/safekidsweek or by contacting Julie Taylor, Program Coordinator, jtaylor@parachutecanada.org.

You can keep up with Safe Kids Week happenings on social media through #SafeKids20, and by following Parachute (@parachutecanada) and the OIPRC (@OIPRC).

III Child Injury Prevention Training and Resources

Public health professionals working with families of young children might consider taking “Introduction to Child Injury Prevention,” a free online training program. The program is particularly useful for those working with families who are: new to Canada, at a low literacy level, or living in remote areas. Learn more about the program online: http://www.parachutecanada.org/e-learning/topic/C376

Numerous evidence-informed resources are available to help public health practitioners learn more about child injuries and what works to prevent them. The resources listed below are a good starting point for exploring this area of focus.

For additional assistance, contact the OIPRC: http://oninjuryresources.ca/about-us/item/contact-us.

IV Data Sources

Emergency department, hospitalization, and population data for calendar year 2015 were accessed through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care: IntelliHEALTH ONTARIO. Data were last refreshed in March 2016.

Ontario child injury data will be released in the OIPRC’s newest issue of the Ontario Injury Compass. Visit the OIPRC website (http://oninjuryresources.ca/compass) or subscribe directly by emailing compass-subscribe@oiprc.parachutecanada.org.

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The OIPRC is supported by Public Health Ontario, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and the Province of Ontario.

The views expressed in this article are the views of the OIPRC and do not necessarily reflect the views of Public Health Ontario, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care or the Province of Ontario.