Finns are spending more and more time at their holiday homes. The choices you make can also prevent accidents in the cottage environment. The Accident Prevention Day campaign takes place in May, culminating on Friday 13 May.
As people are spending increasing amounts of time at cottages and second homes, it is important to make sure that this is done safely. Up to 90 per cent of all accidents take place in the home and leisure environments. The remote location of many cottages also poses challenges to accident prevention. It is therefore important to prepare for accidents correctly.
Slipping and falling major risks at cottages
The most common accidents requiring hospital care among Finns are caused by falling over and falling from a height. Other common accidents include road accidents, poisonings, burns and drownings. The most typical accidents vary by age group.
“Falling over, slipping and falling from a height are particularly common accidents at home and during free time. We do not know the exact share of leisure accidents taking place in the cottage environment, but uneven terrain and slippery rocks and piers typically cause people to fall over, slip or fall off,” says Senior Researcher Hanna Kettunen from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.
Falling over, slipping and falling from a height can be prevented by taking care of your personal functional ability and attentiveness, and by removing factors increasing the risk of falling at the cottage. E.g. appropriate footwear can help you remain upright. You should also consider your use of alcohol.
“Discussions about the harms of alcohol often neglect acute harms and risks in everyday situations. As the summer holiday period begins, it is important to remind people that alcohol is the single most important factor in accidents taking place at home or during leisure time. Simply being aware of this fact should hopefully make everyone think about the habits and situations related to their alcohol use,” says Sustainability Manager Marja Aho from Alko.
Arrival of the fire brigade can take a long time
The importance of your personal fire safety skills is heightened at the cottage. The best safety skill of all is preventing fires by handling fire and gas appliances carefully and under supervision. The essential thing is to detect fires quicky and know what to do.
Smoke alarms play a key role in detecting fires. Every room where people sleep at the cottage should be equipped with a smoke alarm. The operation of the alarms should be tested always when arriving at the cottage. In case of a fire, it is vital that any visiting guests also know how to exit the cottage quickly and safely in case of an emergency.
“The arrival of the fire brigade can take a long time. This is why the cottage should have sufficient first-aid fire fighting equipment. A fire blanket, portable fire extinguisher, stirrup pump and bucket of water are means to put out fires – as long as everyone has also learned how to use them,” says Safety Communications Specialist Juha Hassila from the Finnish National Rescue Association (SPEK).
A third of drownings take place at the cottage
According to the Finnish Swimming Teaching and Lifesaving Federation (FSL), around 150 people drown accidentally in Finland each year. The summer heat draws people on and to the water, which unfortunately is also evident in the number of drownings. On average, half of drowning accidents in Finland take place during the summer months, and last year around a third took place in the cottage environment. Drownings are often strongly influenced by attitudes towards water safety, weak functional ability and alcohol.
“The trend of accidental drownings has been decreasing for a long time. In particular, there have been fewer drownings of children, young people and working-age people. Instead, the share of the elderly has grown as most drownings happen to people over 65 years of age. For a water-safe summer at the cottage, wear life jackets when travelling on water, swim along the shoreline and remember that alcohol has no part in water activities,” says FSL’s Lifesaving Specialist Anne Hiltunen.
Use our checklist to fix any safety issues at the cottage
Finns love their cottages – depending on the calculation method, around 2.4–2.9 million people spend their leisure time at second homes, of which there are over half a million. Also, more and more time is spent at cottages: in 2016, the average number of days a cottage was used was 79, whereas in 2021 that number had grown to 103.
Everyone can make their trip to the cottage safer by identifying various risk factors and preparing for them. Our checklist for a safe stay at the cottage allows you to assess the safety of your surroundings.
- Download the 112 Suomi mobile app and make sure you know where you are, whether on land or water.
- Make sure that your cottage has the necessary first aid equipment.
- Reserve enough time for the journeys. Do not drive when tired.
- Make sure that the cottage’s smoke alarms are in working order. A smoke alarm should be located at least in all bedrooms, the living room and at exits.
- Plan your cottage chores to ensure that you do not fall or hurt yourself. Use safety equipment, as necessary.
- Always wear a lifejacket when on the water.
- Keep an especially close eye on children near water and fire, always staying within arm’s reach. Learn the safety rules of being near fire or water with your children.
- Make a realistic assessment of your swimming skills and only swim accordingly. Always swim with another person and along the shoreline, so that help is close at hand and you are able to reach the bottom with your feet, if necessary.
- Keep a constant eye on the bonfire and any other live flames. Remember that no fires are permitted while a forest fire warning is in effect.
- Intoxicants increase the risk of accidents. Enjoy alcohol with moderation.
- Remember to use common sense and make clear assessments – having the right attitude will increase your safety.
Organisations and authorities have been working together since 1993 in order to prevent accidents. One form of cooperation is to impact people’s attitudes by campaigning on the Accident Prevention Day, organised for the 27th time this year. On Accident Prevention Day we encourage you to think about how you can reduce risks and prevent accidents at work, at home, and in traffic. This year, the Accident Prevention Day campaign takes place 9–13 May, culminating on Friday 13 May.
Accident Prevention Day campaign:
Saara Aakko, planning officer, The Finnish Red Cross, +358 (0)40 480 6973, saara.aakko(at)redcross.fi
Sara Hämäläinen, planning officer, The Finnish Red Cross, +358 (0)40 673 2575, sara.hamalainen(at)redcross.fi
Juha Hassila, safety communications specialist, Finnish National Rescue Association (SPEK), +358 (0)40 758 7846, juha.hassila(at)spek.fi
Slipping and falling accidents:
Hanna Kettunen, senior researcher, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, +358 (0)29 524 7582, hanna.kettunen(at)thl.fi
Anne Hiltunen, lifesaving specialist, FSL, +358 (0)10 3407 333, anne.hiltunen(at)suh.fi
The Finnish Free-Time Residence Barometer 2021 (in Finnish): https://jukuri.luke.fi/handle/10024/547644
www.tapaturmapäivä.fi (in Finnish)
FSL statistics on drowning (in Finnish) www.viisaastivesilla.fi