"Risk-Free Awareness Week" – an attempt to introduce the novel idea that life at the end of the 20th Century for those of us living in the west is astonishingly safe

SIRC – Media Watch 07-05-99

Living – Risky Business Week

Although Jeremy Laurance did propose "Risk-Free Awareness Week", in an attempt to introduce the "novel idea that life at the end of the 20th Century for those of us living in the west is astonishingly safe", its irony seems to have largely escaped the rest of the world's media. A study published in May's Pediatrics, for example, suggested that 'monkey bars' were responsible for a significant number of accidents amongst American children. From a survey that focused on the 24,000 children who had been admitted to Child Emergency Departments over a two year period, only 204 of them (i.e. less than 1%) cited monkey bars as being responsible for their injuries.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, not to be out done, took this opportunity to suggest that as many as 50,000 children annually (between 1990-1994) injured themselves on playground equipment – accidents on monkey bars, jungle gyms, slides and swings accounting for 88% of this figure. The study's scientists emphasized that their data was preliminary, and as such its findings did not constitute grounds for the removal of such equipment. You can't help but wonder how soon it will be before a parental pressure group will appear and begin lobbying for the banishment of the humble climbing frame.

Under attack already however is the trampoline. Dr Ronald Furnival, the head of a team of Utah physicians: "Pediatric trampoline injuries have clearly reached epidemic levels." Despite their research – also published in May's Pediatrics – citing 99% of injuries occurring on privately owned equipment, the team recommend that trampolines neither be used in the home nor for supervised PE classes in schools.

Having recently been made aware of the potential threat posed to the environment by the lawnmower, The CPSC, who seem to have been particularly active this week, are quick to remind us of the health risks. According to their figures lawn-mowing accounts for 200,000 injuries and 75 deaths annually. In an attempt prevent this summer's garden incidents those kind people at the CPSC have produced a list of useful safety tips such as: "never allow children in the yard while mowing, and never allow children to ride on the mower."

A Swedish study, published in the New Scientist under the rather bizarre title of Snoring Kills, has identified snoring as an advance marker for eclampsia in pregnant women, a high blood pressure condition that can be hazardous to both mother and child. According to the Express this week doctors have discovered a new illness – Euro-sickness – activated by the over-contemplation of a single currency. As well as listing a variety of psychological problems the paper suggests that: "some OAPs even plan to move into retirement homes early so they will not have to use the new currency."