LCQ2: Home safety

     Following is an oral reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, to a question by the Hon Tommy Cheung Yu-yan in the Legislative Council today (May 6):


     In mid April, a toddler mistakenly drank kerosene stored in a beverage bottle at home and had to be admitted to the intensive care unit of a hospital for treatment.  Furthermore, in recent years, accidents involving children left unattended at home were reported from time to time, reflecting that some families do not have a high level of home safety awareness.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of reports received in each of the past three years of home safety incidents involving children, and the resultant casualties;

(b) which government department is responsible for the publicity work to promote public awareness of home safety, of the publicity methods and channels used, and whether they include the use of television announcements in the public interest; and

(c) of the amount of resources deployed by the Government to carry out the aforesaid publicity work in each of the past three years; and whether it has any plan to provide additional resources?



     The Government has always attached great importance to publicity for promoting awareness of home safety.  A number of policy bureaux and departments strive to raise the public's awareness of home safety as it relates to their respective areas of responsibilities.  I will now respond to the question raised by the Hon Tommy Cheung Yu-yan on the Administration's behalf.

(a) The Administration does not have the information requested in part (a) of the question.  Although the Immigration Department and the Hospital Authority have statistics on deaths or injuries of persons aged 14 or below, there is no breakdown on whether the deaths or injuries were caused by accidents at home.  The Police does not have the requested statistics either.

(b) As I have just mentioned, various policy bureaux and departments are committed to promoting home safety in relation to their respective areas of responsibilities.  For instance, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) promotes household electrical and gas safety, the Fire Services Department (FSD) promotes fire safety, the Department of Health (DH) promotes injury prevention, etc.  They use different methods and channels to promote home safety and educate the public, such as printing posters, pamphlets, promotional leaflets, safety handbooks and guidelines, etc.; producing compact discs and educational materials; organising exhibitions and activities; uploading household safety information and online interactive games onto their departmental websites, and producing television announcements in the public interest.  Some specific examples are as follows :

- Each year, EMSD collaborates with the relevant sectors to organise the E&M Safety Campaign.  This campaign is one of the largest public education programmes of its kind in Hong Kong, and includes activities such as carnival, school drama, drawing competition, on-line quiz, etc.;

- The Education Bureau (EDB) encourages co-operation between schools and parents in promoting the awareness of home safety.  It has always supported the Committee on Home-School Co-operation's participation in the home safety activities organised by community groups, and encourages the Federation of Parent-Teacher Associations and Parent Teacher Associations in various districts to organise seminars on home issues, such as the seminar on "Perception on Different Hazards in Food" co-organised with the Centre for Food Safety, so as to inform parents and children of the importance of home safety.

     Besides, home safety education is embedded in the different Key Learning Areas and subjects in the existing school curriculum, e.g. General Studies for Primary Schools, as well as Home Economics, Science, Chemistry and Physics in secondary schools, etc.  This is to help students develop an awareness of home safety and thereby prevent home accidents, and to teach them to take appropriate action when accidents occur.  EDB will, from time to time, revise the school curriculum, organise professional development programmes for teachers and develop learning and teaching resources having regard to the prevailing circumstances and needs of our society.

- DH's Family Health Service distributes promotional leaflets to parents through the Maternal and Child Health Centres, teaching them how to prevent home accidents common to children aged five or below.  Meanwhile, members of the public can also obtain education materials on general home safety issues, such as how to eliminate safety hazards one by one, how to store medicine properly and treat choking caused by fish bones, etc, through the Health Education Centre of DH's Central Health Education Unit, its 24-hour Health Education Hotline, as well as DH's websites.

- FSD organises household fire prevention activities regularly, including large-scale ones such as the "Fire Safety, We Care" campaign held last October.  The campaign attracted about 700 participants and was broadcast on TV to an audience of over one million people.

- The Police also conducts from time to time regional promotional activities in relation to home safety.  For instance, it organised a carnival with the theme of "Healthy Development for Our Children" in March this year in collaboration with the Caritas Medical Centre and the Hong Kong Family Welfare Society for the public housing estates in Sham Shui Po.  The aim is to raise parents' awareness of home safety.

(c) Promoting home safety is an ongoing effort of the policy bureaux and departments concerned.  We do not have breakdowns on the resources spent on the promotional work mentioned above.  Relevant bureaux and departments will, as necessary, continue to pursue publicity and public education in their individual areas of responsibilities for the sake of promoting home safety.

Ends/Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Issued at HKT 12:47