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It’s probably not much of a consolation when driving home on a black February evening to know that road accidents are actually much more common in the summer time.
And while weekday evenings are notorious black-spots, or blackmoments, for collisions, weekends are also bumper times for accidents – particularly for those where the reason given is ‘driver-distraction’. Vehicles full of animated children are not the easiest places to be focussed. Perhaps cars are the only places where children shouldn’t be seen or heard!
So does knowing where and when all the other people had accidents help us to stay safe? The short answer is yes – provided the result isn’t a false sense of security about all the other times. Statistics for accidents in the home are less detailed than road related figures, but still give an insight to where the hazards lie. The picture will be familiar. The most dangerous area in the home is the living and dining area – where children spend most time – not to mention all these tripping and scalding hazards where people relax and eat.
But for serious accidents the kitchen is still tops. The devils brew of cooking, cleaning, cutting, stacking and ironing make it a potential pit of vipers for a child. And for lots for adults who are injured there too. The stairs are the North Face of the Eiger of most households too – particularly for toddlers of course, but all ages can miss a step or try carrying too much downstairs. If we add the dangers to older people in the bathroom – small children are pretty well supervised in this territory – we’ve covered most rooms in the house.
We know that children are more at risk at times of stress in the family or when there just isn’t enough supervision. But we also know that even when things are calm and ‘normal’ (imagine such a thing – a normal household!) accidents cluster in the early morning, late afternoon and early evening, in school holidays, in the summer and at weekends. Partly, of course, that is when children are at home but these are also times when homes are in flux – people coming and going, full of excitement. So while the home may not be quite as well documented as the road in relation to accidents, we are not short of knowledge about where the stress points are.
One statistic from the mountain of figures about road casualties, is the one that gives the lie to the idea that tired drivers far from home are most at risk. Only 6% of road accidents take place more than 25 miles from home. It’s the cosy, familiar streets where the risk is highest. On our own patch we relax and fail to notice the extraordinary. There is a lesson here for home safety – just like out on the open road, it’s the familiar where we relax and get into trouble.