Falls the leading cause of visits to Emergency

24 March 2016

Hundreds of Queensland children will land in a local emergency department after a fall in the next two weeks, prompting a call for parents to brush up on their first aid skills and remain vigilant about supervision.

The Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital emergency department saw almost 3000 children – or 170 children a day – over the 2015 Easter school holiday period, with bumps, scrapes and breaks from falls the most common injury.

Director of Emergency Dr Jason Acworth said playground equipment such as monkey bars, slides, swings and trampolines remained the most common cause, followed by scooters, Ripsticks and skateboards.

“Children aged five to nine are most likely to be injured falling from play equipment, and more than 70 per cent of trampoline injuries occur in children under nine,” Dr Acworth said.

“Teenagers were most likely to be injured playing sports with 80 per cent of all presentations aged between 10 and 15. Young people in this age group are also more likely to sustain a fracture to their arms as they use their hands and arms to brace against a fall.”

Last Easter, falls from furniture, particularly beds and bunk-beds accounted for 11 per cent of all fall-related presentations, of which 85 per cent were in children under the age of four.

“Children under the age of four often fall due to their top-heavy nature and suffer injuries to their face and head. These types of falls regularly occur at home and involve falls from less than one metre from furniture including beds, chairs or nursery tables,” Dr Acworth said.

Dr Acworth said parents should seek medical help immediately if their child appeared stunned, lost consciousness, seemed unwell or vomited after a hard knock to the head.

“In a distressing situation it’s often difficult for parents to know whether their child requires emergency medical attention. Parents should look out for signs of headaches, dizziness, slurred speech or disorientation, and if in doubt always seek medical attention,” he said.

Dr Acworth said while some bumps and bruises were unavoidable and a natural part of childhood, parents could take steps to ensure they were prepared for emergency situations.

“It’s a good idea for parents to do a first aid course, through St Johns Ambulance, for example, have a first aid kit on hand, and if on holidays, know the location of the closest emergency department,” he said.

Kidsafe Queensland chief executive Susan Teerds said parents could follow a number of simple precautions to keep their children safe whether away or spending time at home.

“Young children cannot identify hazards in their environment, but adults can, so put on your workplace health and safety hat and have a good look in and around your home and in the playground, Ms Teerds said.

“Identify hazards and consider what you can do to remove the danger or minimise the risk of serious injury associated with the hazard. For example, secure a gate at the top and bottom of internal stairs and ensure helmets are worn when skateboarding or cycling.

“When babies and children start moving around, they’re more likely to have falls and bumps. To minimise the risk of a fall off furniture, put the things your children want to reach on the lowest levels so they’re less tempted to try climbing for them and keep tempting items out of sight,” she said.

While these safety precautions greatly reduce the risk of injuries, Ms Teerds said parental supervision was still the best way to prevent fall-related injuries.

“Young children should be closely watched and supervised by an adult at all times around fall hazards, such as stairs and playground equipment, whether at home or out to play,” she said.

For more information on falls prevention and other home safety tips, see www.kidsafeqld.com.au

ENDS

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