Safe Kids Canada

Safe Kids Canada

May 30, 2005 11:08 ET

More than 1,800 children could be seriously injured playing outdoors

Safe Kids Canada recommends actions that could reduce these numbers by 40 per cent Attention: Assignment Editor, City Editor, Health/Medical Editor, Lifestyle Editor, News Editor TORONTO/ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - May 30, 2005) - More than 1,800 children could be seriously injured while playing outdoors this summer
Safe Kids Canada recommends actions that could reduce these numbers by 40 per cent

Toronto, Ontario, May 30, 2005 - Safe Kids Canada today unveiled new information showing that this June through August, 1,800 children could be seriously injured and 50 could die from participating in the most popular summer activities - bicycle riding, swimming, walking and playing in playgrounds. The good news from Safe Kids Canada is that at least 40 per cent of these injuries could be prevented by taking precautions.

"Safe Kids Canada encourages Canadian families to stay safe this summer while they get out and get active," said Allyson Hewitt, executive director, Safe Kids Canada. "Sadly, injuries from summer activities can change a child's life forever. But many of these injuries can be prevented by taking precautions."

Ride Safe:
Tips for parents - Make sure kids wear a helmet; and keep them off the road until they're 10

Wearing a bicycle helmet reduces the risk of head injury by between 70 and 85 per cent in the event of a crash. Since most serious injuries and deaths are caused by head injuries, a properly fitting bicycle helmet should be worn on every ride.

Parents and caregivers also should keep children off the road until at least age 10, unless they are with an adult. To ride in traffic, children need to be able to pay attention to multiple factors at one time, including the speed of approaching traffic, road signs and balancing the bike. The mental and physical skills they need to ride safely in traffic do not start to develop until age 10. When children reach 10, they can begin to ride on the road but parents should ride with them to make sure they know how to cycle safely in traffic. Parents also should keep kids on quiet streets with lower speed limits.

"Research shows that the ability to juggle multiple pieces of information and make good, fast decisions develops gradually in kids sometime between age 10 and 14," added Hewitt. "While many children have the coordination to ride a bicycle at age five or six, the ability to judge traffic safety risks develops much later."

Safe Kids Canada urges all provinces and territories to implement and support bike helmet legislation. Legislation makes it clear to the public that helmets are necessary. In jurisdictions with child bike helmet legislation, there are 25 per cent fewer head injuries from cycling than in provinces without.

Swim Safe:
Tips for parents - Surround pool with a four-sided, four-foot high fence; and stay within arms reach of kids under five

Children under the age of five have the highest risk of drowning because they are attracted to water but don't understand the dangers. Most drownings of small children happen when they are playing near water, rather than swimming. They can slip into the water quickly and silently without adults being aware. The majority (70 per cent) of toddler and preschooler pool drownings could be prevented if all backyard pools were properly surrounded with a four-sided, four-foot-high fence and a self-latching gate. Parents should supervise children of all ages near any body of water, and stay within arms reach of children under five. For extra protection, kids can wear a life jacket near the water.

"I know first-hand that one minute can change your life forever," said Julie Rusciolelli, mother of now four-year-old Rachel. "As the mother of a small child who nearly drowned when I left her side two years ago, I learned that if your child is not close enough to give them a hug, you are too far away."

Walk Safe:
Tips for parents - Keep kids off busy streets; and don't let kids under nine cross the street alone

The speed of a car makes a big difference to the level of injury. For example, a pedestrian hit by a car going 30 km/hr has a 10 per cent chance of being killed but this risk jumps by 80 per cent if the car is going 50 km/h. Parents should keep their children's walking routes restricted to quiet streets with lower speed limits. Lowering speed in communities could prevent two-thirds (65 per cent) of pedestrian deaths and injuries.

It's also important to make sure that children under age nine cross the street with an adult or older child. Children younger than nine are not developmentally capable of making important decisions about traffic. They are easily distracted and lack a concrete sense of danger. For example, they can't judge critical road safety factors such as speed, distance or sound. As a result, they can't tell how fast a car is approaching or how far away it is. Starting when children are young, take practice walks together and make sure they know how to cross the street safely. Nine-year-olds should demonstrate to their parents that they can cross safely before being allowed to go alone.

Play safe:
Tips for parents - Use playgrounds with a deep, soft surface; and keep kids under five on equipment less than five feet (1.5 meters) high

Most playground injuries happen when children fall from high equipment onto a hard surface. Children are twice as likely to be seriously injured if they fall from equipment that is more than five feet high. Softer surfacing and lower equipment in playgrounds could prevent approximately half of playground injuries. Parents and caregivers should check for a deep soft surface under playground equipment and keep young children on lower equipment.

Today marks the launch of Safe Kids Week 2005, which runs from May 30 to June 5. The campaign, Make It a Safe Kids Summer, is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson.

More information for parents on Summer Safety
Safe Kids Canada and Johnson & Johnson are offering a free Make It a Safe Kids Summer brochure which includes an injury prevention checklist. It is available in participating stores across the country that sell Johnson & Johnson products during Safe Kids Week, May 30 to June 5, 2005. For more information, visit or call Safe Kids Canada at 1-888-SAFE-TIPS.

Attention editors: A photo from the event - 50 silhouette cut-outs of children, representing the number of children who die each June through August while doing the most popular summer activities - will be available on the CP photo wire.

Spokespeople across Canada
Safe Kids Canada has local expert spokespeople in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver available for interviews. Also available is a family whose toddler nearly drowned when she was briefly left alone.

About Safe Kids Canada
Safe Kids Canada is the national injury prevention program of The Hospital for Sick Children. Johnson & Johnson is the North American Founding Sponsor and supports the annual Safe Kids Week campaigns.

Additional Sponsor:
CN, through their All Aboard for Safety program is a proud sponsor of Safe Kids Week 2005.

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For more information contact:
Environics Communications, Toronto
Sacha Tynan or Jill Rosenberg
416-969-2716 or 415-969-2708 IN: HEALTH

Contact Information

  • Sacha Tynan, Consultant, Environics Communications
    Primary Phone: 416-969-2716
    Secondary Phone: 416-969-2708