29th February is a special day because it only happens every 4 years. Due to the orbit of the earth around the sun, (which actually takes 365.25 days and not 365 days exactly), every 4 years we have to add another day to our calendar, hence 29th February. Leap Day is usually a day for celebrations, marriage proposals and fun, but if you’re not careful, it could be your last!

Accidents are the biggest killer of children and young people. Every year there are approximately 6,000 deaths as the result of a home accident, and on the roads, 5,838 children aged under 15 were injured in 2017 alone. Accidents happen, yes, but many of them are preventable with a bit of thought, training and applied knowledge. So, in order to address the issues, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), has been raising awareness and offering safety advice for over 100 years, and on 29th February 2020, their annual Family Safety Week begins.

RoSPA’s vision is for people to live a life “free from serious accidental injury” and their mission is to offer life-enhancing skills and knowledge to people in order to reduce these. Children and over 65s are the most likely groups to suffer from home accidents, so Family Safety Week is the perfect opportunity to raise the topic with the children, young people and families in your care.

If you haven’t visited the RoSPA website recently, then the first step is to familiarise yourself (and your colleagues) with the myriad of information and free resources that they offer. There are posters, training packs, videos and a wealth of information and advice to help people prevent injuries and accidents, much of it aimed specifically at the under-5s and the people that care for them.

This year’s focus is on road safety for young people. Many adults will remember growing up with the Green Cross Code as it was launched in the 1970s, but it is still relevant today with its simple message.

One of the problems that RoSPA want people to understand is the link between the ‘school-run’ and the number of child pedestrians who are killed or seriously injured between the periods of 8–9am and 3–4pm. They are also increasingly concerned that due to cuts to the number of road safety officers provided by local councils, more and more of our children are receiving little or poor pedestrian training. And it’s too late to think about it when a child excitedly runs suddenly into the road – there has to be action taken to prevent the accidents in the first place.

So, what can you do in your setting?

The safety and safeguarding or our children is everyone’s responsibility and it would be advantageous to start from the premise that some children in your setting may not have received any pedestrian training and make sure that you tell children how they can keep themselves safer when walking. Practical training is also extremely useful, and you should remind children about safety issues every time you travel outside your setting.

There is a free, downloadable and practical pedestrian training pack for teachers of children in years 3 and 4 who can’t get access to a road safety officer, to help them deliver training in this vital life skill. But the information is still relevant to early years and it’s better to receive more training than nothing at all.

One way you could celebrate Family Safety Week is by focusing on a different safety area each day. You could think about other times and areas around the home where accidents happen that are particularly relevant for under 5s, including:

  • Bath time
  • Bedtime
  • Mealtimes
  • Playing
  • Stairs
  • Cupboards and storage areas
  • Doors
  • Going outside the home on roads and pavements
  • Playgrounds
  • Swimming

Make it fun

It’s important not to scare children when talking about safety issues, as we still need to encourage risk-taking and adventure too. But it’s vital that you get the message across and the risks are minimised. Talking about health and safety issues is not about eliminating risk because that is not real life, but it is about minimising risk through education, being well prepared, and taking responsibility. RoSPA also have a lot of information about how to prevent common accidents such as:

  • Burns and scalds
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Choking
  • Drowning
  • Injuries from fires
  • Poisoning
  • Falls
  • Strangulation and asphyxiation

The new Keeping Kids Safe campaign aims to end the tragic toll of 0–4-year olds needlessly killed or injured each year and there is more information online about this too with lots of videos and practical advice to follow.

Involve your children’s families

It’s not called Family Safety Week for nothing. In your setting, make sure you include events, activities and promotions  which you can invite the whole family to. Read through the list of ideas below or come up with your own ways to get the messages across.

  • Raise awareness and spread the word by letting parents and friends know that your setting is supporting Family Safety Week using your own social media and use some of the free downloadable social media resources on the website. Use the hashtag #FSW.
  • Raise some money for the Brighter Beginnings Appeal which is raising money to provide new parents with life saving tips and tools at a time when they need it most. The money goes towards providing Parent Packs, giving more children a brighter and safer future.
  • Run an event for families in your setting or community. Be inventive about what the event could be.
  • Create a display or performance to raise awareness in your setting. There are posters to download, colouring sheets to colour and you could create some emergency scenarios using drama to help teach the children the key messages.
  • Phone the helpline to ask questions or at least let your staff and parents know that the helpline exists so that they can use it for any questions they have about keeping everyone safe. The number is 0808 801 0822.

Whatever your situation, mark the week in a fun, exciting and above all, SAFE way!

For more information, visit the RoSPA website.

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