DOMESTIC accidents cause 11,500 deaths a year in France, a study shows.
Figures from the INVS, a public body that monitors the nation’s health, reveal that accidents are the third most common cause of death, after cancer and cardio-vascular illness.
Half of these were due to falls, followed by suffocations (15 per cent). Next most common are drowning and poisoning, then fire.
Domestic accidents come under the heading of “accidents of daily life”, which also includes 7,000 deaths from accidents at school or during sports or hobbies.
Two thirds of victims are 75 or older.
Such accidents also represent the leading cause of death of children under six, notably suffocation or drowning.
However the INVS noted a drop of 11 per cent in deaths in this age group in the last period studied, 2004-06, compared to 2000-02, probably owing to awareness campaigns and tighter regulations of products.
Prevention measures include keeping anything dangerous away from small children’s reach and using safety adaptations such as plug covers.
When it comes to elderly people, falls are the main danger: checking floors for uneven or slippery areas or obstacles and installing anti-slip mats in showers is recommended.
Mats should be taped to the floor, though fitted carpet is preferable.
For all age groups, the stairs are the area where dangerous accidents are most likely to happen: it is recommended to use toddler gates and to fit strong handrails or consider a chair lift.
The site e-securisation (in French) offers tips on evaluating safety at home.
An income tax credit exists towards installing safety aids such as hand rails.
Photo:© Stefanie Maertz - Fotolia.co