Reducing unintentional injuries in and around the home among children under five years

July 2014

Public Health England (PHE) launched two new resources for local authorities on preventing accidents to children and young people in the home and on the road on 23 June 2014, the first day of Child Safety Week.

This article covers unintentional injuries in and around the home among the under fives.

Unintentional injuries are a leading cause of preventable death

The initiative signals PHE’s recognition that ‘unintentional injuries are a leading cause of preventable death for children and young people and a major cause of ill health and serious disability’.

PHE developed this practical resource with CAPT, assisted by RoSPA. The resource is significant. It represents a powerful call to action from PHE, providing important information that will help local authorities and their partners make decisions about priorities in accident prevention work.

There are three elements:

Key findings

  • An average of 62 children died each year between 2008 and 2012.
  • The injuries lead to around 40,000 emergency hospital admissions each year.
  • Falls are the main cause of the admissions.
  • Choking, suffocation and strangulation lead to more deaths than any other type of accident.
  • The hospital admission rate for unintentional injuries among the under-fives is 45% higher for children from the most deprived areas compared with children from the least deprived.
  • Five injury types should be prioritised: choking, suffocation and strangulation; falls; poisoning; burns and scalds; and drowning.

Key action areas for local authorities

PHE suggests three key action areas for local authorities and their partners and provides information on how to take them forward. These are the messages:

  1. Providing leadership and mobilising existing services prevents injuries.
  2. The early years workforce needs support and training to enable it to strengthen its central role in helping to reduce unintentional injuries.
  3. Focusing on five kinds of injuries for the under fives makes sense.

The five injury types that could be prioritised are: choking, suffocation and strangulation; falls; poisoning; burns and scalds; and drowning.

The resource has specific sections on:

  • the costs of the injuries
  • key prevention opportunities
  • a four-step action plan
  • key data to be used
  • sources for case studies
  • accident prevention resources
  • references.

CAPT’s Chief Executive, Katrina Phillips welcomed PHE’s initiative:

"Children continue to be killed or disabled in accidents that can be prevented and the poorest children are at greatest risk. Local councils and their partners can achieve a step change for children, often at low cost, by prioritising the accidents that matter and mobilising existing services. That’s why PHE’s call to action is so welcome. We encourage PHE to support councils over the long-term, helping them to understand the benefits and savings that work on accident prevention achieves."

Supporting PHE’s guidance

CAPT assisted Public Health England in the development of this guidance. Our accident prevention experts are well placed to support local authorities and their partners to implement the advice.

See the information on CAPT’s main website about consultancy and training.

"They were very professional, knowledgeable and it was just really worthwhile to have that opportunity to share their expertise and much wider knowledge."

– Local authority user of Making the Link consultancy

"I don’t think we would have been able to get to a stage where we are now without CAPT’s consultancy. We have much clearer ideas about how we can start to improve and enhance on the work that we’re already doing."

– Local authority user of Making the Link consultancy

Case studies

The Making the Link website contains a wealth of information which supports PHE's guidance on injuries amongst children under five years. There is information on policy and tools including CAPT’s guide to commissioning accident prevention services.

There are case studies on the development of local child accident prevention strategies including those in Bradford (1) (2), Salford and, most recently, Nottingham.

There is also material on resource libraries, e-learning, providing thermostatic mixing valves and more.

Information and resources

The main CAPT website includes safety advice plus CAPT's extensive range of publications and other resources.

Updated November 2014