National Window Safety Week: April 5-11

Sad childEvery year, more than 3,300 children under the age of 5 fall from windows, suffering injuries serious enough to send them to the hospital; sadly, about eight children a year die from these falls. To raise awareness about the risks, the National Safety Council, window and door industry professionals and other child safety advocates formed the Window Safety Task Force. Every year, the Task Force sponsors National Window Safety Week.

The most obvious risk is kids falling from windows that are unsecured. SafeKids has a good child fall prevention tip sheet. Screens are no help at all, they cannot break a fall. If windows will be open, install child-safe window guards. It’s important to know how to safely childproof windows. Child-safe window guards can help, but it’s important not to install anything that would be a hindrance to escape in case of a fire. Safety experts caution that there is a balance between the two needs: fire escape and fall prevention.

Another window hazard is related to window coverings. It’s important to child-proof these coverings to ensure there are no cords, chains or string that can strangle children. Learn what to guard against in the CPSC Safety Alert: Are Your Window Coverings Safe?

The National Safety Council has an excellent resources:
Window Safety Checklist
Window Safety Awareness Brochure
Window Safety Activity Book for Kids

Please share these tools with anyone you know who has babies or toddlers. Awareness also needs to spread beyond parents: all too often, accidents happen when someone who is less familiar with children fails to understand or guard against the risk.

The Idiots on Ladders Award

Unsafe ladder use

It’s usually fun to win a contest, but here’s one contest we hope you never win: the annual Idiots on Ladders Contest. This dubious distinction is a recognition by the UK’s Ladder Association, which solicits entries all year on their Facebook page. You can see a gallery of photos this year’s “Biggest idiot” along with several runners up at EHS Today, a publication aimed at health & safety safety professionals.

While this might seem like a laughing matter at first glance, the reality is that this “award” is a clever way to call attention to a serious issue. Here in the U.S., falls are the second leading causes of accidental home-related deaths and the leading cause of deaths on construction sites. Many of these are ladder related. Note the statistics from Consumer Reports, Don’t let a ladder be your downfall:

“Whether it’s cleaning your gutters or hanging holiday decorations, you might have to climb a ladder to get the job done this fall. But be careful: Nearly 200,000 emergency-room visits and 300 deaths are linked to ladder accidents every year, and most people who fell didn’t have anybody holding the ladder below them.

The typical accident victim is a 55-year-old man who falls nearly 10 feet, according to a study of more than 27,000 trauma patients published this month in the Journal of Surgical Research. Reaching too far and placing the ladder in the wrong spot are the most common causes of those accidents. “

Don’t try to win this award! If you use ladders at home, there are many great buying guides, safety tips and free ladder safety training programs online – many ladder manufacturers offer great resources. You can find safety information with simple search, but we’ve picked out a few.

Ladder buying guide – Consumer Reports

Ladder Safety – detailed tips from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors – a good guide for home repair

Portable Ladder Safety – OSHA

Do’s and Don’ts of Ladder Climbing – a pictorial guide from Werner

Ladder Safety Posters from Worksafe BC – intended for work, but good visuals for homeowners too

Distracted walking is no joke

OK, you’ve heard about distracted driving – but were you aware that distracted walking could be a problem, too? Although it may sound funny, it’s a real thing and not a joke. Just as happens to drivers, pedestrians experience reduced situation awareness, distracted attention and unsafe behavior when talking or texting on mobile phones.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that 1,152 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms after being injured while using a cellphone or some other electronic device in 2010 — and the number had doubled since the year before. The increase in pedestrian injuries paralleled and even exceeded distracted driving injuries.

Falling onto a train track

Falling off a pier

Scary run-in with a bear

A little humor to make a serious point
Distracted walking is a serious topic but it prompted fun-loving pranksters Improv Everywhere to launch an army of “Seeing Eye People” to protect the many distracted walkers in New York – a funny way to make a serious point.