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Keeping children safe from preventable injuries through effective intervention

As per World Health Organization (WHO) report, globally around 1 million children die every year due to preventable injuries.  Millions more are injured in ways that can affect them for a lifetime. It is the urgent need of the hour to address this epidemic before more harm is done.

With an aim of preventing childhood injuries and saving the lives of children in India, Safe Kids Foundation, a non-profit organization, in collaboration with the parent organization Safe Kids Worldwide and with a support from Honeywell launched ‘Safe Kids at Home’ program in Pune in 2015. The goal was to reduce injuries to children in Pune that commonly occur in the home, such as fires and burns.

This program was backed by an extensive IMRB research which revealed that burns and scalds were the second leading cause of injury amongst children below 14 years of age and are topmost in severity. The startling results showed that in the year 2015 alone, about 64% of all injuries reported actually occurred at home, which is supposed to be the safest place for children. 

The research threw light to the following:

Incidences: Burns/scalds among top three hazards in occurrence; falls and cuts/bruises are at nos. 1 and 3 respectively. Moreover, Burns /scalds topmost in terms of severity, and have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable age group: 7-10 years. In absolute numbers, in the year 2014 around 76,000 children under the age of 14 suffered burn/scald injuries, out of which 38% required medical attention; Of these, 3,194 had suffered third degree burns. Heat burns (56%) are most prevalent, followed by friction burns (22%) and electrical burns (12%). According to general practitioners, fireworks is topmost hazard, and needs to be monitored. 

The study highlighted that the topmost causes of burns/scalds are hot utensils, hot liquids/beverages, and firecrackers. Children in SEC C households report higher incidence of burns/scalds (57%), which could be due to undefined kitchen spaces.

‘Safe Kids at Home’ Program

Since the figures were alarming, Safe Kids Foundation developed a home safety program called “Safe Kids at Home” to spread awareness on unintentional injuries. The program targets the top causes of home-related injury and deaths of children in general and burn and scald in specific.

The primary message of ‘Safe Kids at Home’ Program is about Fire and burn safety. Our key content revolves around fire safety measures that need to be observed by parents and children at home. Some prominent causes of burn injuries at home are related to cooking & kitchen fire, electrical fire, burns due to firecrackers, open flames, etc.

The program deploys cutting-edge, experiential, and fun educational tools targeted at different age groups to educate them on fire and burn prevention through classroom activities, home assignments, videos, games and songs. To engage children with the core idea of the program and to reinforce the home safety messages, various inter-school and inter-city competitions have been conducted regularly in schools. Till date, the program has trained 6,11,807 students from 1,287 schools and 5,18,713 parents from 250 communities through classroom sessions and community interventions. Trained 404 master trainers from 400 model fire safe schools and trained 2,006 fire safety volunteers.

The program aims to bring together citizens and civic bodies through a strong public private partnership who can drive a strong safety culture in the city in sync with the Indian government’s 100 smart cities vision and has formed 400 model fire safe schools and 100 model fire safe communities that will lead the way in making Pune a ‘Safe Kids at Home’ city in India. The program has evolved over the years from training students and parents to training the teachers and community volunteers on life saving skills as they play a vital role in injury prevention programs.

Mid-term and End-line studies have been carried out by external agencies to assess the impact of the program. The studies reveal that there has been 50% less fire incidences in Pune compared to other major cities in India.

The outstanding work of Safe Kids Foundation has also received both national and international recognition for its innovation. The program received the highest endorsement from Mr. D.K. Shami, Chief Fire Adviser to the Government of India. Moreover, they received the ‘Excellence in Home Safety – 2017, Global Award’ at the child injury prevention convention held at Baltimore in July 2017, which is a top honor among 30 countries. They also received the NGO Leadership Award from World CSR Congress hosted by ET Now. Also, the program has received accolades from city’s top leaders including Mayors, Municipal Commissioners, Chief Fire Officers, etc. 

Safe Kids Foundation is the only organization in the country working extensively for child safety and prevention of unintentional injuries. The organization is dedicated solely at saving the lives of children, to prevent fatal injuries or deaths caused due to unintentional or preventable injuries. As the front runner of the cause in the country, SKF is keen in addressing this issue intensively.

“Through organized and intensive reach, we aim to educate children and the adults on various causes of preventable injuries and that is what sets us apart from any other initiatives working in the vertical of child safety.  A holistic integration of all stake holders involved in the well-being of child’s safety, i.e., school authorities, teachers, parents, doctors, NGOs, local government, fire department and municipal authorities, not only adds credibility to the programme but also intensifies the reach and impact. SKF’s umbrella strategy further ensures the inculcation of a safety culture in India.” – Dr. Cinthia Pinto, Executive Director, Safe Kids Foundation. 

A parent says, “the Agni Suraksha Mitra training organized by SKF under Safe Kids at Home program was good and it was a well-planned training. I learned a lot of new things today. How to call a fire brigade during a fire emergency and how to save ourselves during the emergency was one of the main things I learned from this training. The demonstration shown by the fire department was excellent. I will use this knowledge hereafter”………… Mr. Sanjay Chandrakant Bhagat, Ward No 11, Rambaug Colony, Shivtirth Nagar, Kelewadi, Kothrud, Pune.

Another parent says , “I got the information on cooking safety. The type of precautions that should be taken to avoid the fire and burn injuries were shared by Safe Kids Foundation. While cooking the concentration should be on cooking only. This important message I got from this session. Apart from that, if clothes catch fire one must follow the stop, drop and roll procedure. Thank you Safe Kids Foundation for educating us on fire and burn safety”. ………Ms. Anita Dipak Sonawane, Jagtap Dairy, Pimpri.

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