How Often Do Children Visit Emergency Rooms Due to Falls?
Every year in Ontario 1000s of children under the age of 5 years arrive in hospital Emergency Rooms (ER) due to falls in the home. These injuries are happening across Ontario, even in your local community, for example:
- Durham can sometimes have as many as 152 falls in a month.
- Guelph-Wellington-Dufferin has had as many as 72 falls in a month.
- Haldimand-Norfolk sometimes has as many as 28 falls per month.
- Niagara has reported up to 108 falls some months.
Using ALTER for Child Safety
The ALTER concept was developed by Professor Barbara Morrongiello, an injury-prevention researcher in the Psychology Department at the University of Guelph. On this website you will find information to help explain and use ALTER to keep your child safe in your home. In support of ALTER, we have also added stories about child injuries and safety, questions and answers from parents about safety concerns, and community resources for support in Southern Ontario. Please take the time to review this website, and share your thoughts with us and other parents who are interested in helping to keep children safe in their homes.
Here are 3 Quick Take-Home Messages
Children do unpredictable things at these ages, so close monitoring is always important.
Research has shown that you cannot count on your child to always follow safety rules. We recognize it is not possible to watch your child every minute, so try using ALTER to find other ways to keep your child safe.
All parents know that stairs are dangerous for children, but injuries from stairs remain one of the most common sources of fall injuries in Ontario.
For toddlers, always use stair gates. Remind family members and guests to close gates behind them.
For preschool children, teach your child rules about the safe use of the stairs such as by always using the railing, not carrying anything when on the stairs, and sitting on their bottom to go down. All children should be watched for many years because it takes them years to develop good balance.
Furniture is another major source of injury.
Toddlers can roll or fall off of furniture. Use the safety straps on change tables and highchairs to secure them and keep them safe.
Preschool children often climb or jump on furniture, leading to injuries from falls to the ground or by hitting other objects on the way down.