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Escalators as Source of Injury to Children
Detail: A new study, conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) in the Columbus Children's Research Institute at Columbus Children's Hospital, showed an estimated 26,000 U.S. children 19 years of age and younger were treated in a hospital emergency department for an escalator-related injury in 1990-2002. According to this study, which is a first to describe the epidemiology of escalator-related injuries among children using a national sample, published in the August 2006 issue of Pediatrics, approximately 2,000 children are treated in United States hospital emergency rooms annually for escalator-related injuries.

Children younger than five years had the largest number of injuries (12, 000), and the highest annual escalator-related injury rate, with entrapment accounting for nearly 37 percent of injuries. Six percent (723) of injuries to these children involved a stroller, with most occurring when a child fell out of the stroller while on the escalator. The hand was the most common injury site (40.6%) among these young children, with hand injuries frequently occurring as a result of entrapment.

The most common mechanism of injury for all age groups, however, was a fall, which accounted for more than half of the injuries. Entrapment accounted for 29 percent of injuries, and the leg was the most frequent (28%) site of injury for all age groups combined.

The authors of the study suggested proper adult supervision for younger children on an escalator including removal of children from strollers by parents to prevent fall and entrapment. Parents are advised to carry their children while on the escalator, and to make sure that they have one hand free to hold the escalator railing for balance. Though the authors acknowledge that additional research is needed to determine the relationship among passenger behavior, escalator design and escalator-related injuries, CIRP director Gary Smith, who is also one of the authors of this study, suggested that escalator designs that reduce the gap between the steps and sidewall or shield against access to the gap may decrease entrapment risk. According to him, this redesign approach may provide automatic, or 'passive,' protection that is most likely to prevent entrapment injuries in all age groups.

For more information, please contact Mary Ellen Fiorino (614) 722-4595 or Pam Barber (614) 722-4595 in Marketing/Public Relations at Columbus Children's Hospital.
Source: Columbus Children's Hospital,
Date: August 16 2006