Healthy Living in the North

Preventing child falls in the home and at play

Children play on a net at a playground.

Summer is a great time of year to think about how to prevent child falls in the home and outdoors.

Did you know that falls are the leading cause of injury in BC children from birth to 14 years old?

I’m a parent and a nurse. Like all parents and caregivers, I want to keep my kids safe while allowing them to have fun and be physically active. I’m always amazed by how quickly children’s skills and abilities can change as they develop from one stage to the next. You can never be sure what they might get up to next!

Falls are a normal part of child development

Children are naturally curious, and they learn by playing and exploring in their environments. Falls and tumbles are a normal part of child development, and many falls result in no more than a minor scrape or bruise. Still, each year, more than 140,000 children are seen in emergency departments across Canada for more serious fall-related injuries.

Preventing serious fall-related injuries

Summer is a great time to think about how to prevent child falls in the home and outdoors. As temperatures rise, many of us open our windows to let in the warm, fresh air. For children under five years old, injuries often happen in the home and involve a fall from furniture, stairs, or a window.

Creating a child-friendly home

Children have large heads compared to the rest of their body. This affects their balance and puts them at risk of getting a head injury from a fall.

For information on how to create a child-friendly home, check out Home safety: Around the house from Parachute. There’s also information about head injuries on the Northern Health’s concussion page.

A child's feet are near the edge of a platform on a playground.

Each year, more than 140,000 children are seen in emergency departments across Canada for serious fall-related injuries.

Don’t let a preventable injury ruin your family’s outdoor summer fun

The sunny weather also draws families outdoors to enjoy activities such as biking, swimming, or going to the playground. Don’t let a preventable injury ruin your family’s outdoor summer fun! Parachute is a great online resource for injury prevention information.

Here are some easy precautions that Parachute suggests parents and caregivers take to prevent serious falls and help kids stay safe:

  • Use window stops and keep balcony doors locked.
  • Use stair gates in your home.
  • Place all furniture away from windows and balcony door handles.
  • Make sure playground equipment has barriers, is properly anchored and in good condition, and has a deep, soft surface.
  • Practise active supervision while still giving your child the chance to explore and develop.

More information

Dana Vigneault

About Dana Vigneault

Dana has worked in Public Health since 2007. She joined the Population Health team in 2018, as a Regional Nursing Lead for Injury Prevention. She is excited to be engaged in upstream initiatives, focused on preventing injuries and promoting healthy communities. Dana lives in Terrace with her husband and two children and enjoys spending time in the garden, at the lake and in the mountains.

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Preventing injuries at home, at play, and on the road: Safe Kids Week 2016

Safe Kids Week poster

The 20th anniversary of Safe Kids Week is all about preventing injuries at home, at play, and on the road!

The warm, sunny days of spring invite us to go outside. Playgrounds fill, bikes are dusted off, and road hockey games are happening in every neighborhood. I love the feeling of freedom that spring brings. As much as I enjoy winter activities, by the time the snow begins to melt, I am eager to hike in the woods on a warm dirt path rather than a frozen one!

This is what I’m thinking as I read the newly released Chief Medical Health Officer’s Health Status Report on Child Health by Northern Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Sandra Allison. Reading the report, I see my family reflected as part of the larger northern community: “Living in the North,” the report finds, “presents both amazing opportunities and complex challenges for children and families.” We have the great resource of wide open spaces along with some unique obstacles that we face as a region. As a northerner, I do feel connected to my environment and the opportunity that each season presents. I think of my kids, who particularly like counting the worms we come across in our garden!

With these new spring activities starting up again comes the risk of kids being injured as they explore the season. Falls from learning to ride a bike, an inviting lake that is too enticing to ignore, and the start of a new sport all have the potential of injury for a child. My family, like all families, works hard to keep everyone safe but the risk of injury is still present. Injuries are predictable and preventable. In my family, for example, we spend a lot of time teaching our children the rules of the road while cycling.

To help us all keep our kids safe, from May 30 – June 5, Parachute Canada is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Safe Kids Week. This celebration brings awareness to the risk of injury in childhood. Parachute’s Safe Kids Week will highlight ways to keep our kids safe:

  • At home (looking to prevent burns, poisoning, falls, and water injuries)
  • At play (looking to prevent concussions and sports & recreation injuries)
  • On the road (safety on bicycles, in motor vehicles, and as pedestrians)

Did you know that in Northern Health’s region, the leading causes of injury for children and youth are motor vehicle crashes and falls? As a mother of two, this is not just a statistic, but a reminder of the preventable risks to my own family. It’s also a call to action. Join me in celebrating Safe Kids Week in the North. Take some time to check out Parachute Canada’s Safe Kids Week 2016 website and create a way to get involved in your community.

Safe Kids Week banner

How can you prevent childhood injuries in your community?

Natasha Thorne

About Natasha Thorne

After many years in southern B.C., Natasha was drawn back to her hometown of Prince George in 2006 by the lure of extended family, sub-boreal forests, and raising her babes exploring the backwoods of her own childhood. Whether nose in a book or in real life, Natasha is an aspiring world traveller planning overseas vacations so she and her husband can give their two children a wider perspective of living in today's global community. As the full time Regional Nursing Lead for Injury Prevention for Northern Health, Natasha is committed to the north and is passionate about supporting the health and well-being of northerners.

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Getting ready for Safe Kids Week 2016: Highlighting preventable injuries

Girl wearing life-jacket at the beach.

2016 is the 20th anniversary of Safe Kids Week! Community toolkits to support local events will be released by Parachute Canada on April 18, 2016.

You wouldn’t know it by looking outside at the driving rain that is pouring down my office window, but at the end of March, northwest B.C. saw some of the warmest weather in history. Warm spring weather always sets the stage for another great season of outdoor activity and play.

With lots of new outdoor activities available to us, spring is also a great time of year to talk about childhood injuries. Injuries are the leading cause of death for children and are a leading cause of hospitalizations. Injuries don’t happen by accident. They occur in repetitive and predictable patterns; injuries are preventable.

You may think I’m putting a damper on the enjoyment of the season, but awareness is a form of prevention! The real tragedy is when fun is affected by the serious injury of a loved one. We can change the statistics.

Parachute is a national charitable organization dedicated to preventing injury and saving lives in Canada. From May 30 – June 5, 2016, Parachute Canada will be celebrating 20 years of injury prevention awareness for children and families through Safe Kids Week. This year, Safe Kids Week will be raising awareness and sharing information to prevent injuries:

  • At home (burns, poisoning, falls, water)
  • At play (concussions, falls)
  • On the road (bicycles, motor vehicles, pedestrians)

I hope that you’ll join me in saving the date! Community Toolkits for this year’s Safe Kids Week will be available from the Parachute Canada Safe Kids Week website on April 18, 2016. Order your toolkit and join Northern Health as we work together to keep our children safe!

Our winter seasons are long in the north, so taking the time each spring to review safe activity and play with our families is worth it!

Amy Da Costa

About Amy Da Costa

Amy Da Costa has worked in Public Health for 12 years. She recently joined the Population Health team as a part-time Regional Nursing Lead for Injury Prevention. Amy lives in Kitimat with her husband and two children. They like to camp, swim, and cook as a family.

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