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Preventing Child Finger Door Trapping Accidents

By: Denise Tyler - Updated: 26 Aug 2015 | comments*Discuss
Children Trapping Fingers Doors Finger

Accidents involving children trapping their fingers in doors are more prevalent than you might think. Every year, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA,) 30,000 children trap and seriously crush their fingers in doors at home, school, nursery or shops. More than 1,500 of these children will need surgery, sometimes requiring ongoing reconstructive surgery, while some injuries can be as commonplace as bruising and can be treated with ice and cuddles.

Why do Accidents Occur?

So many trapped finger accidents occur because of the number of doors there are: internal/external doors, cupboards, garages, wardrobes, sheds and playhouses etc. The more serious accidents happen through finger trapping in the hinge side of these doors and can be prevented by the use of a finger protector similar to those seen in MacDonald's and many other public places.

Even gates in playgrounds can be dangerous as they are often heavy with spring loaded shutting mechanisms in order to ensure they stay shut to keep children from straying.

Trapped fingers are not just the domain of babies and toddlers; research shows finger injuries in doors occur at similar rates across three age groups: 0-4, 5-9 and 10-13 years, in fact, injuries in the latter group are often far more serious, with a higher proportion resulting in amputation. Boys it seems, are more susceptible to this type of injury than girls.

Steps to Prevent Finger Injuries

The figures relating to trapped fingers are all the more shocking when prevention measures are so simple. Here are some straightforward ways to save a child's fingers:
  • Fit front and rear hinges with protection strips – these devices cover the hinge where the door is joined to the wall. They are a long strip of plastic, easily fitted, that bend with the door when it opens, preventing children from slotting their fingers in.
  • Fit doors with stoppers and jammers – these are to prevent the door slamming onto fingers. Generally a thick 'U' shaped spongy foam material, they simply slot over the door itself and stop it from shutting completely into the frame.
  • Fit safety catches to drawers and cupboards – if you've got plenty of money, you can have self-closing drawers fitted which slow the action down considerably. If not, then you might want to fit safety catches that prevent cupboards and drawers being opened by small hands in the first place.
  • Use good old fashioned door wedges – when doors are kept open make sure they are wedged on both sides. This works with smaller children who aren't strong enough to move them but may not be so effective for older children (and it can be draughty!).
  • Fit door knob covers – this will prevent children from opening doors. Costing only a couple of pounds each, they slot over the existing door knob. The over-sized grip design spins loosely around the door knob when a child tries to turn it, yet is easy for adults to grip and squeeze to open the door.

What To Do

Finger injuries from doors include severed fingers and fractured crushed or bruised fingers or fingertips. It is sometimes difficult to assess the severity of an injury when a child is screaming with pain. Even relatively minor finger injuries can lead to some loss of movement – if you are unsure about the severity of your child's injury always consult a doctor.

Seek immediate hospital treatment if:

  • There is obvious amputation or missing tissue
  • There is severe pain or deformity
  • There is heavy bleeding or bleeding will not stop
  • Your child has no feeling in the finger
  • Your child's finger is not healing well after what seemed like a minor injury

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Many of the above suggested remedies for this problem are not workable and would be illegal on many of the doors in workplaces or buildings used by the public, including schools, nurseries etc.This is because many of the internal doors in these premises are fire doors and there must be no fittings to them that prevent them from fully closing. Anyone making changes to a fire door or its hardware or frame etc really needs to know what they are doing or to take advice.Additionally, fire doors should not be wedged open!
Henry - 26-Aug-15 @ 12:45 PM
I work in a large homeless unit the door of a night time is through French doors only one side is kept open residents with children have to sign in and out when leaving the unit due to fire roll, they have to enter the french doors, as it's the only place to sign in and out ( this is in their temporary accommodation contract ) but they have now put a spring loaded hinge on the door passed by our h/s maintance co-ordinator,I think it's an accident waiting to happen, I have put my concerns across as the first night the door closed on a teenagers foot causing redness and slightly swollen, There are no finger guards, am I right to be concerned.
None - 10-Jun-15 @ 12:59 PM
@martin - I'm afraid we don't. You might have to approach the HSE for possible stats.
SafeKids - 29-Apr-15 @ 12:56 PM
Does your organisation isolate figures for injuries caused specifically by fire doors?I'm trying to get a clearer idea of "relative risk" in schools.The most extreme form of comparison is to quantify the risks posed by equipment designed to reduce another kind of risk. Some of the mitigations you suggest, both in design and post installation, are not allowed on fire doors; eg jammers, wedges.
martin - 26-Apr-15 @ 11:57 PM
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