by Andy Baxter
We all know that chainsaws are very dangerous. In Britain, 1207 people had to visit hospitals after accidents with chainsaws in 1999. However, in the same year, 16,662 people, more than twelve times as many, were injured by their sofa!
In June 2001, the New Scientist reported that «its favourite government report» had been published by Britain’s Department of Trade and Industry . This was the annual Home and Leisure Accident Surveillance System report for 1999. The report looks at what people said had made them go to accident departments in certain British hospitals. It then uses these figures to estimate causes of accidents over the whole country.
Some of the most harmless things prove to be extremely dangerous:
Clothes: the Times (07 June 2001) reported that there were 5945 trouser accidents (compared with only 5,137 the previous year). Socks and tights caused 10,773 accidents. Most of these accidents were people falling over because they were getting dressed too fast, and many other people fell over clothes left on the floor (you see, your mother was right when she told you to tidy up your bedroom!)
Meanwhile, the garden also took its revenge. Tree trunks caused 1,810 accidents, and bird baths went on the rampage, attacking 311 people – up from 117 victims in 1998. But the biggest danger was your wellington boots: 5,615 accidents.
In films, people always hide from danger in the bathroom, but that’s a dangerous option in real life. Toilet-roll holders alone accounted for 329 victims, while 787 people had to confront their sponge or loofah, and there were 73 talcum powder victims. But beware the clothes basket, which claimed 3,421 victims nationwide.
But it was in the kitchen that most people got injured. Tea cosies “ woollen covers for tea pots to keep the tea hot “ caused 37 injuries, compared with 20 the previous year; while placemat accidents were up from 157 to 165. Vegetables caused 13,132 incidents, while 91 accidents were caused by bread bins.
The deadly nature of these common household objects becomes clearer when you compare it with items people normally think are dangerous. Only 329 injuries were caused by meat cleavers, and only 439 caused by rat or mouse poison.
How can we explain all these horrors hiding in our homes? Perhaps the figures are explained by the fact that most of the injured people were children under five. And we all know that young children on wobbly legs will go to places and insert their fingers in places that even Lara Croft would have thought twice about risking: