Teuila Fuatai

Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Kids most at risk of injury in the home

Preventable accidents account for majority of hospital admissions, says Safekids director.

The research, released yesterday in conjunction with Auckland Council, showed about 19 kids died each year in Auckland from preventable accidents. Photo / Getty Images
The research, released yesterday in conjunction with Auckland Council, showed about 19 kids died each year in Auckland from preventable accidents. Photo / Getty Images

Playtime activities are ending in thousands of hospital admissions each year for Auckland youngsters, new figures show.

An analysis by safety promotion agency Safekids Aotearoa of injury figures for children aged 0 to 14 in the region showed about 2600 were hospitalised each year with unintentional injuries - about 50 children each week.

The data, provided by Otago University's Injury Prevention Research Unit, was based on overnight child hospital stays for the five years ending December 31, 2012.

It found "home" the most common place children were hurt, and kids in the youngest age bracket - under 5 years - were injured most frequently.

Safekids director Ann Weaver said the figures showed too many kids were being badly hurt in preventable accidents, and parents and local government needed do more to minimise the incidents.

The research, released yesterday in conjunction with Auckland Council, showed about 19 kids died each year in Auckland from preventable accidents.

In July last year Auckland toddler Jai Ihaka went into a three-week coma after suffering severe head injuries from a fall at Henderson's Hart Domain playground..

In March, 18-month-old Mila Tamihana died in Waitakere Hospital after being run over in the driveway of her West Auckland home.

Less than two weeks later, 23-month-old Te Manawa Whetuki Renata died after being hit by a vehicle in a Papatoetoe driveway.

Ms Weaver said it was important families looked at their "home environment".

"At home, it's definitely falls which are the biggest issue for hospitalisation.

"That's falls from furniture, falls from windows, falls down stairs, falls off balconies and off play equipment at home, so trampolines are a big issue."

According to the data, falls were the leading cause of severe injuries for kids, with 6300 admissions over the five-year period.

Being caught between objects or pinned against something was the next most common, followed by non-traffic related accidents involving "wheeled objects" such as bikes and scooters.

Burns were the fifth most common cause of hospitalisations.

"If you're hospitalised for more than 24 hours, that's a severe injury, not just knocks and scrapes and bruises," Ms Weaver said.

"It's usually a fracture or something more serious."

The variation between age groups for the types of severe injuries and what caused them showed supervision of children wasn't always straightforward.

"From 5 to 9 age group, [the most common cause of injuries are] falls from playgrounds and for 10 to 14 [age group], it's wheeled objects, so that's falling off skateboards and scooters and bikes.

"We don't want children to not have fun and not do these things, in terms of riding their bikes or their scooters or climbing and extending themselves, but parents need to be aware of their child's limitations and their age development."

Working out a child's competency-level was crucial to keeping them safe, Ms Weaver said.

Click here to read the full report.

- NZ Herald

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