We know stairs are a serious hazard for the elderly, but we often forget that they are also a threat to toddlers. In Canada, many falls involve staircases: some children suffer a fall when attempting to go up or down the stairs, others tumble down in their walkers, and others are injured when the person carrying them falls down or drops them. In children between the ages of 1 and 4, stairs are involved in 13% of falls.
According to a study published in a major pediatrics journal, nearly a million children under the age of five were taken to the hospital in the United States between 1999 and 2008 for injuries they sustained on a staircase, usually at home. Babies 12 months or younger had the highest risk, accounting for 32% of the injuries. In fact, stairs were the leading cause of injury in that age group, and in 25% of cases they were being carried by an adult at the time of the accident, which increases the risk of a serious injury. Soft-tissue injuries like sprains, bruises and hematomas were the most common consequence of staircase falls (35%), followed by lacerations (26%) and head injuries (20%).
While we can purchase gates to block children’s access to stairs, they do not always fit the staircase layout very well. When setting up the gate, it’s important to test that the installation is solid, and to do so again regularly afterwards.
Even the best parents in the world cannot watch their children at all times. It is therefore important to make sure that measures are in place to prevent any unfortunate stair-related incidents.