Small Data: Getting stuck on things or in things

Boy with head stuck in railings

My favourite figure of last week came from the London Fire Brigade, writes Anthony Reuben.

It tweeted: "Since 2001 we have helped 16 kids in #Bromley with their heads stuck in banisters. Take care this summer."

And the message was accompanied by the picture above. Those look to me (and the fire brigade press officer) like railings not banisters, but that's just pedantry.

It was released to promote a fire brigade press release encouraging parents to keep an eye on their children during the summer holidays.

Apparently, in the last year the LFB has to rescue 1,508 young people who were stuck on things or in things.

Boy being released from milk churn

But what things are these children getting stuck on or in? Only a small proportion of them are banisters. Indeed, in the last five years it has received 165 calls that were classified as involving children being stuck in railings, banisters or gates.

What could the other things be? The LFB sent out this magnificent picture of a boy being released from a milk churn, but it's hard to imagine that that is a regular problem.

The LFB provides an extraordinary list of recent incidents, including a child with its head stuck in a potty, one with its arm stuck in a television speaker and one with its leg wedged in a statue in a Kensington car park.

A child in Brent got a toy train stuck on its finger, one got its foot stuck in a merry-go-round in a park in Dulwich and a 13-year-old had to be released from a baby swing in Havering.

Children display extraordinary creativity regarding the things they manage to get stuck in.

The press release links to lots of advice for the parents of young children, but it's all about fire safety and what to do if your child is "displaying firesetting tendencies". There's nothing about how to prevent your child getting stuck in stuff.

"Many of the incidents we get called out to could be avoided with a little bit of common sense," advises LFB Third Officer Dave Brown.

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