The strategy for England, published today by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), says continual training on accident prevention for early years practitioners to ensure they are up-to-date with best practice and emerging safety issues is vital in preventing injuries in the home – where young children are most at risk of accidental injury.
According to RoSPA, between 2013-2016, the main cause of accident-related deaths in the under-fives was threats to breathing including suffocation, strangulation and choking.
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The national strategy, which has been developed by a wide range of partners including Public Health England and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, seeks to address the rising numbers of accidental deaths among children and adults in England, and the toll they place on health and social care services, as well as personal heartache.
For children at Key Stages 1 and 2, it recommends schools and local authorities teach them about pedestrian safety, including mobile phone distraction, to tackle serious injury on the roads.
It also calls for every child to have the opportunity to learn to swim and receive water safety education at primary school.
Despite the statutory requirement on schools to provide swimming instruction to children in either Key Stage 1 or Key Stage 2 and ensure they can swim at least 25 metres and perform safe self-rescue, RoSPA says that 45 per cent of children aged seven-to- 11 are unable to swim the required length.
Errol Taylor, RoSPA’s chief executive, said, ‘Serious accidental injury to children is a significant health issue that often gets overlooked as a public health issue – in England each year, an average of 132 children from birth to 14 die, and more than 100,000 are admitted to hospital – but this doesn’t have to happen.
‘For under-fives, the home is the key area of concern from an accident point of view, and it is vital that there is support and training for practitioners working with young families.
‘Road safety becomes increasingly important as children get older – as children gain more independence their risk of being injured as a pedestrian grows, particularly around their transition from primary to secondary school. Safer road environments are vital to encourage safe and active travel, but we must also ensure that we are providing our young children with the skills and knowledge they need to stay safe on the road.’
He added, ‘Despite swimming and water safety being a statutory requirement at Key Stage 2, we know that 45 per cent of children aged 7-11 cannot swim the required 25 metres. This has to change if we are to prevent the 300 accidental drowning deaths that happen in UK waters each year.’