These are unprecedented times and a huge number of the world’s population is confined to their homes. But is this really a safe place?

Of course this lockdown is exactly what we have to do to thwart the aggressive spread of Covid-19. but home confinement comes with its own dangers. Let’s look at what they are and how we can be mindful to avoid them.

Did you know that most accidents happen in the home?

It is absolutely true. A study published in The Guardian newspaper in the UK showed that domestic accidents are the greatest culprit when it comes to Accident & Emergency hospital admissions; more so than incidents on the road, in the workplace, at school or even indulging in leisure pursuits.

Dr. Cliff Mann is leader of Britain’s Emergency Medicine Doctors. He has looked closely at the issue of accidents at home and in leisure pursuits and the strain they place on the health service.

“The reality is that you are more likely to die sorting out the Christmas lights by taking them out of the loft or trying to fix the faulty plug than someone working on a building site”.

He added that, statistically, “You are better off being at work or driving to and from work than you are being at home”.

Remarkable as it might seem, the facts and figures show that accidents in the home outstrip those on the ski slopes or race tracks, rugby pitches, boxing clubs and obstacle courses.

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Let’s look at some figures…

  • Every year there are 6,000 deaths in the UK due to accidents in the home.
  • 2,000,000+ children are admitted to A&E (Accident & Emergency) as a result of accidents at home.
  • More women than men over the age of 65 die as a result of a domestic accident.
  • Majority of accidents happen in the lounge/living room.
  • Children under 5 and adults 65+ are most likely to have accidents.
  • The cost to UK society of accidents in the home is £10 billion annually.

(* Source ROSPA – Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents)

A study over an 18 month period saw that injury patients treated at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital and Horton General Hospital in nearby Banbury showed the following breakdown of 26,310 admissions:

  • 10,949 (41%) – accidents in the home
  • 6,602 (25%) – leisure pursuits
  • 4,020 (15%) – accidents on the road
  • 2,620 (10%) – accidents in educational settings
  • 2,119 (8%) – accidents at work

Very clearly these figures point to the fact that a person’s home – the place where they almost certainly feel safest – is actually an accident hotspot. And against most people’s likely expectations, the kitchen is not responsible for most accidents. That dubious honour goes to the lounge/living room area.

Prof Keith Willett, NHS England’s director for Acute Care, said: “The number of people who come through the Accident  & Emergency door with DIY, leisure and gardening injuries is striking. Working as a trauma surgeon for over 30 years, it has been frustrating to see how many people come to A&E with injuries that could have been avoided with a bit more care. However, I would much rather people remained active and fit for their general mental and physical well-being than avoided sport.”

What are these accidents? In Part 2 we will take a look…

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