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Top 5 causes of serious injury for children

5 most common causes of serious injury for children: The 7th – 13th June 2021 is Child Safety Week, run by the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) to raise awareness of the risks of child accidents and how they can be prevented.

CAPT analysed data on England’s deaths and hospital admissions for five years from 2008-12 and found the following horrifying statistics.

  • There were approximately 40,000 emergency hospital admissions for under 5s each year as a result of an accident in the home.
  • An average of 62 deaths each year.

Identifying the most likely causes of injury and prevention is obviously the priority. However this article also contains First Aid advice and free resources showing you how to help with these accidents.

The top causes of serious injuries and fatalities were as follows and many of these could have been prevented:

  1. Choking, suffocation and strangulation
  2. Falls
  3. Poisoning
  4. Burns and scalds
  5. Drowning

Choking, suffocation and strangulation

These 3 were responsible for the largest number of deaths.

Choking was predominantly due to food, but small toys were also a risk. Never leave your child unsupervised when eating.

Suffocation most frequently occurred in bed, as a result of pillows or a parent squashing them

The most common cause of strangulation was loose blind cords, but ribbons and bags should never be left on the side of a cot.

How to help your choking child

First Aid for Choking

How to help your choking baby



Please click here to access our free choking course


Falls were responsible for the most accident related hospital admissions for under 5s – nearly 20,000 each year!

They were predominantly caused by the following:

  • Falls from furniture
  • Falling downstairs
  • Falls whilst being carried
  • Falls from windows or balconies.

How to help your child after a fall

The most important things to look out for after a fall are head and spinal injuries and recognising signs of shock that could indicate internal bleeding or some other serious problem. It is important to understand when and how to move someone if they have fallen.

Log roll with a suspected spinal injury

Generally, only move someone who has fallen if they are in immediate danger or if they are unconscious and breathing and you are concerned about their airway.

Click here to watch a video about when and how to move someone with a suspected spinal injury


About 21,000 under 5s attend A&E annually as a result of poisoning.

poisoning low res

The main causes are medicines (70%) and household chemicals which result in about 20% of these admissions. Other causes are small button batteries and electronic cigarette refills.

Admissions due to poisoning are on the increase.

First Aid for Poisoning

Click here to watch a video about First Aid for poisoning

Burns and Scalds

One year olds are the most likely to be burnt and this is primarily due to hot drinks, pots and pans and bath water. Burns from hair straighteners are also relatively common as such items stay hot for such a long time. It is important not to underestimate the dangers posed by radiators and heated towel rails.

How to help your child if they have been burnt

First Aid for Burns - how to reduce pain and scarring



Drowning was one of the highest causes of death. For very young children the main risk was the bath.

drowning - first aid, how to help

Babies and Toddlers can drown in as little as 5cm of water. They do not make any noise, do not struggle and just slip away. Therefore, there is no warning to alert you to the problem.

Click here to watch First Aid for drowning

For more information on First Aid courses click here.

Emma Hammett

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