How domestic accidents harm people, claim lives

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By Job Osazuwa

For nine months,  Mr. Judeson Okafor Mba, a former banker and businessman, could hardly move.  An injury sustained in an accident in his apartment demobilized him.

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At a thanksgiving service after his recovery, Judeson said: “The last nine months have been terrible and frustrating for me and my family. On that fateful day, November 13, 2020, my wife and I were about to have our bath when I slipped and fell on the tiled floor. My wife was already in the bathroom, unaware that I had fallen and couldn’t get on my feet. I lay on the floor for about 20 minutes, groaning in severe pain until my wife came over to assist me get on my feet.Untitled18 12 Untitled19 13 Untitled20 9

“That was how my whole life came to a standstill for nine months. The challenges I and my family experienced during the period of my ailment were horrible and frightening. My business suffered losses. We didn’t believe I could walk again, but by only the grace of God Almighty I am on my feet, hale and hearty. I want to specially thank God for his grace and sustenance, and strength to persevere. I also appreciate my darling wife and lovely children for their show of love during the difficult time. They were really supportive to me all the while. I also use this opportunity to thank my relatives, friends and my fellow church members. To God be the glory.”

He lamented that, apart from the pains, he was unable to perform his conjugal duties as a husband for the period.

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Mba is not alone. A Lagos-based trader, Mrs. Onome Ogehenekevbe, will not easily forget how her mother slipped and fell in her bathroom in Ughelli, Delta State.

She told Daily Sun that it was one incident that got all the family members broken. She recollected that when she received the news of her mother’s fall, she thought it was a minor incident. It was unknown to her that it was a fall that would claim the 69 years old woman’s life in a matter of minutes.

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Oghenekevbe said, while she was making calls to arrange how the victim would be taken to a well-equipped hospital, she got another call 30 minutes later that her mother had breathed her last. She said doctors confirmed her dead when she was taken to a private hospital.

She said that her mother hit her head on the tiles or the toilet seat, which led to severe injury, including open wounds on her head. She also blamed her death on the fact that there was nobody on hand to quickly rescue the victim, as she was home alone when the accident happened. She opined that, by the time help came, a lot of damage had been done.

In June 2021, a final-year student of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Omotoke Suliyat, died the same way.

It was gathered that the HND 2 student of Marketing Department slumped in the bathroom and was immediately rushed to Hope Hospital in the Adigbe area of the state, where she was confirmed dead on June 13, 2021. There were, however, no details of how the accident happened.

It was learnt that the tragedy threw her entire school into mourning for some days. She was described as a brilliant and easy-going student who did not trifle with her studies.

Many people have been sent to an early grave, while others are left with injuries following one form of domestic accident or the other. Homes regarded as the safest place hide many hazards.

Everyone knows that accidents happen, but do people’s fears about household injuries line up with reality? This is one area that usually constitutes the least concern or worry for many Nigerians. Yet, many are dying, largely unreported.

Whether in Lagos or Kano, unintentional domestic accidents continue to devastate people. It is not peculiar to Nigeria. Unpremeditated injury remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality, particularly among children worldwide.

Managers of healthcare centres have also raised the alarm that domestic accidental deaths constitute a public health burden in Nigeria. They said many people have died as a result, even as they called for more caution while using objects or facilities that could cause injury.

Stakeholders and other concerned Nigerians believe that public education to reduce accidents would go a long way in stemming the rising number of victims and casualties. They stressed that safety at home must be taken very seriously by all.

Domestic accidents are harmful, unexpected, unintended, and abrupt occurrence affecting people of all ages, but mostly children, which may or may not produce major injuries and which lead to medical consultations. They are inevitable events; however, they are largely preventable and their occurrence can be minimised among children and the elderly. Accidents are the main cause of injury and even death in children.

As gathered, most of the domestic misfortunes could be avoided, according to experts in the building industry. These accidents range from kerosene to petrol poisoning, cuts, and minor and fatal falls.

It is argued that, no matter how much people strive to make their domestic environment safe, accidents at home still happen, even in the most conscientious of households. When it comes to the health of families, especially for those with young children, it makes sense to know exactly what to do if certain common scenarios occur.

Not a few persons would easily forget how the famed musician, Stella Monye, cried out that she needed N35 million for her son’s almost two decades of pain and misery. He got the injury through a domestic accident.

That singular incident dealt the artiste a devastating blow. While she traversed the length and breadth of Nigeria, even beyond seeking healing for her only beloved son, Ibrahim, her career came crashing.

“His unfortunate circumstance continues to consume our life. Getting him well and free from pain is my mission. It seems a long road, distanced and murky life for us,” she had told newsmen.

She further said: “I begin my day at sunrise with tears of sorrow and end at sunset with prayers for my daily grief, a single mother whose handsome and only son has been in pain the past 17 years of his 27 years on planet earth.”

For her, a freak accident of a goodhearted child has become a pathetic burden and songs of sorrow that have tormented her for two decades. Her name is all over the media; while her songs are on radio and other media outlets, what many do not know is the heartache of a dear mother that frequents hospitals every week to save her son and keep him alive as she prays for his healing.

“My heart bleeds; my salty tears flow endlessly on my face, these tears rage every day, they are my river of pain. I am physically suffering due to Ibrahim’s condition. No mother should to go through my agony with her child. You do not wish that on any mother, not even a wicked witch.

“Each morning, I clean my son’s opened stomach. Every week, we go into the hospital because of infections to his injuries, opened stomach and for his kidney dialyses. His urethra is damaged. This process has caused him kidney disease. Ibrahim lives with tubes inserted in his lower abdomen,” she explained.

According her, Ibrahim’s lower abdomen has been open for years, and a tube is connected to his bladder to help him discharge bodily fluids. He had got into an accident at age 10, while trying to help one of his friends fetch water from their compound’s tap that was attached to a water tank in the yard.

“His friend had complained to him as they walked home from lesson that there was no water at their home, and he had not taken a bath in days. Inside their compound was a water tanker, barricaded by fences with sharp irons for security. The child pointed toward the water tank as he complained that he needed water from the tank to shower for the day, but couldn’t climb over the fence to turn the tap.

“Ibrahim volunteered to climb over the fence to open the tap, allowing water to gush. As he climbed the fence, he fell; his scrotum got caught by the sharp iron on top of the fence. It penetrated his scrotum, tore flesh of the scrotum as it pinched deep, painfully inside his urethra.

“He was trapped; crying, blood oozing from his scrotum and staining the fence. His screams attracted passersby and other neighbours who rushed to help him from the sharp objects. His scrotum had been badly and deeply slashed,” Stella stated.

Recalling a domestic incident she witnessed some years ago in Lagos, Mrs. Abigail Mexico said: “I can’t forget how one of our relatives who came to visit us in our Lagos home almost died.

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“He went to the bathroom either to have his bath or urinate then, all of a sudden, we heard a loud noise like a crash. We ran there and saw that he was lying motionless on the floor. We did not quickly understand what was happening or what might have led to his fall. In fact, it was when someone screamed blood that we quickly rushed him to the hospital.

“It was when he was revived hours later that he narrated how he slipped and tried to support himself with anything that was close to him. But he said that was the last thing that he remembered till he found himself on a hospital bed.”

A businessman, based in Benin, Edo State, Daniel Kings, said that he would not fix tiles in his bathroom when he has resources to build a house for himself.

“From what happened to one of my neighbours in my former house and the stories I hear from time to time, I have vowed not to have anything to do with tiles in my bathroom. It is beautiful but it has killed many people and given others pain. I cannot use my money to buy what will kill me or any member of my family. God forbid,” he said.

Mr. Jolayemi Ayobami, who deals in building materials in Atan, Ogun State, said many domestic accidents were as a result of wrong use of tiles by the tilers handling the job.

“This is my 14th year in this business. Tiles come in various sizes and shapes. Some of the surfaces are rough while others are very smooth. It is the duty of the tiler to choose which of the tiles is appropriate on the floor or in the bathroom.

“But what we usually witness is people going for beautiful and fancy tiles without considering the implications when fixed on the floor. But building professionals with years of experience know the right materials for the right position.

“I heard of a woman who slipped right in her sitting room, fell and hit her head on a pillar. The woman died on the spot. It was later discovered that her granddaughter who came visiting poured water on the floor, which the unsuspecting grandma stepped on. Adults could be that careful, but what about children who are always playful and carefree?

“Sometimes, you can blame those handling the buildings, some other times, some property owners readily settle for cheap building materials in order to cut costs. This often happens when the project is meant to be rented out by the owner.

“Thank God that we now have tiles that can never be slippery even if you pour water or other liquid contents on it. Though the designs are more expensive, it is better that house owners go for them to avert dangers of any kind, “Ayobami said.

Abiodun Kolade, an Ogun State-based plumber, who also fixes tiles, said: “Everything is about experience and quality materials. Whenever I am given a job, what I do is to give quotation to my clients. But some of them would argue that they need to buy the materials themselves, suspecting that I have inflated the prices. In that case, whatever material the client brings is what I will use to work for him or her.

“There are tiles that are not meant to be fixed on the floor, no matter what. But some house owners would insist that they need them on the floor because of the colour or uniqueness. The owner of the house could be careful while stepping on it but what about those that will be visiting?”

Domestic accidents are a worldwide public health problem, and in some European countries, domestic accidents kill more people than road accidents. Some sources consider domestic accidents to be the leading cause of death worldwide, while others yet put it among the five leading causes of death.

Over 700,000 children die yearly as a result of injuries, especially in the developing world where 13 per cent of the total burden of disease among children under 15 years has been attributed to accidents and injuries.

For instance, a six-year retrospective study using mortuary records was carried out by a group of researchers in University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Port Harcout, Rivers State.

Coroner’s forms data were used from the Anatomical Pathology Department of the institution. The results showed that 83 domestic accidental deaths were seen at the teaching hospital and they were analysed. There were other domestic accidents, but they didn’t claim lives.

The 83 deaths occurred in 63 males and 20 females, giving a ratio of 3:1, between the ages of six months and 86 years. There was a bimodal age distribution, with 20 cases, 24.1 per cent occurring in preschool age children, and 22 cases, 26.5 per cent occurring in the elderly over 70 years.

Fifty-one deaths occurred in urban areas, while 32 cases occurred in rural areas; 70 cases occurred from falls from height or same level, thereby constituting the commonest mechanism of injuries that led to death in the elderly. In children, the commonest mechanism of injuries leading to death was poisoning.

It was concluded that the yearly incidence of these deaths was increasing with the peak of about 30 per cent in recent years compared to about 6 per cent in the late 1990s.

Mr. Dapo Adepoju, who lives in Lagos, told the reporter how he narrowly escaped being incapacitated for life by some years ago in his own house.

He said the power distribution company had thrown the area into a blackout while he was relaxing alone in his sitting room. Then he was going to pick a torch from his bedroom when he collided with a big stool that his lastborn playfully pushed to the middle of the sitting room.

He said the collision landed him straight on the step that led to the dining area, causing him a leg dislocation that took some weeks to heal.

“I fell flat like a baby. I can’t forget that day. Since that day, I am extremely careful if I must walk when there is no light at home or anywhere I find myself,” Dapo said.     

A concerned parent, Mrs. Veronica Adegbite, said she is extremely careful anytime she steps into her bathroom. Besides, she said that she was also very aware of other things that could harm her in any environment she finds herself.

“For example, I take my time to hold the rail anywhere I’m climbing a staircase. Some people might laugh and call me old or village woman, I don’t mind because we are talking of safety.

“I also try as much as possible to ensure that I monitor my children and keep them away from every possible danger. Things that we overlook are sometimes what would plunge us into eternal pain. Most times, what we need is caution.

“I remember when one of my children, who was about two years old then, grabbed a razor blade from their father’s room and used it to cut his elder sister’s left breast. The victim was five years old then. Immediately the little boy saw blood gushing out from his sister’s breast, he started crying. We met both of them crying and we couldn’t believe our eyes that such a thing could happen even when the father and I were at home at that moment.

“I blamed their father for not keeping the razor blade properly, if he was to reuse it. But the bottom line: the scar is still very visible on her breast till date even as the girl is now 19 years old. I am sure her future husband will get to know about it. That is on a lighter note. But it is a bitter lesson that we the parents learnt from it.

“You could see some parents exposing Sniper and other deadly chemicals to the reach of their toddlers and other young ones at home. We need to learn from other people’s ugly experiences and not wait till they happen to us,” Adegbite said.

Some of the other most common accidents that could happen in the home may include falling objects, especially when children start to move around on their own. There becomes an increased danger of them pulling objects down on top of themselves. Also common is trips and falls. A fall can affect people of all ages, but they are most common among the very young and the very old. It could lead to sprains, and the knees, ankles and wrists are the most common parts of the body affected.

Medics have said that for cuts that lead to losing much blood, first aid is required to stop the bleeding. Choking also frequently occurs whereby children have a sort of fascination with putting objects in their mouth and swallowing them. It is recommended that the child is taken to the nearest medical facility.

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