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Safer homes could cut the number of child injuries and deaths

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds, such those in low income families and those living in social or privately rented housing, are most at-risk of an unintentional injury.

Yet, the vast majority of cases in the home can be prevented by carrying out home safety assessments and through the provision of home safety equipment.

NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) has published three pieces of complementary guidance which aim to keep children and young people safe from serious harm. These consider strategies to prevent unintentional injuries; home safety assessments and the provision of safety equipment; and road design.

The guidance on strategies and home safety calls for local authorities to develop local agreements with housing associations and landlords to ensure permanent home safety equipment is installed and maintained in all social and rental dwellings.

Heather Ward, Chair of the Programme Development Group (PDG) that developed the strategies guidance, said: “This new guidance on strategies recommends some low cost measures that can be adopted by landlords in the home, like installing a thermostatic mixing valve.

“This controls the temperature of the water coming into the bath. The idea is that it prevents very young children from being scalded when they are being bathed. It’s already in the building regulations for new houses to be fitted with these valves but we would like to see them installed by landlords into existing properties where there are young children.

“Given that it can cost up to a quarter of a million pounds to treat a scalded child, not to mention the scarring for life that these children endure, then it’s a very good measure to implement.”

Professor Mike Kelly, Director of Public Health at NICE, added: “Our guidance on home safety assessments is about identifying and offering help to households at greatest risk. We know that simple safety equipment for example, stair gates, and smoke alarms are effective in preventing deaths and serious injuries.”

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