Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Childhood Injury Prevention Tips

About a year and a half ago, I was babysitting for some family friends when their two-year-old daughter fell from a bunk bed ladder and broke her leg. She was okay, but it was definitely a scary experience for both of us! I couldn’t get it out of my mind that I should have been watching her more carefully or that she shouldn’t have been in a room with a bunk bed. It was hard to get past those feelings of guilt, and I definitely wished there was a way that accident could have been prevented. After doing some research, I found a few easy steps parents can take to prevent injuries to their children both at home and in public places.

Fall Prevention
According to the CDC, about 8,000 children each day are treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries. Although not all of those can be prevented, many can! Some of the CDC’s recommendations for preventing falls at home include:
  • Using gates in front of staircases
  • Using child-proof locks on any windows above ground level
  • Carefully supervising young children when they're around stairs, ladders, or playground equipment.

Children are also at risk for falling at the playground or at school. In fact, children ages 5-9 have the highest rates of emergency room visits for playground accidents, and most of those occur at school. Some ways that you can keep your child safe at playgrounds, at school, or while playing sports include:

  • Make sure there is a soft material under any playground your child uses, such as wood chips, sand, or mulch. Playgrounds with dirt, grass, or cement are more dangerous.
  • Read any signs posted at the playground, and make sure that your child is using age-appropriate equipment. Younger children may need to be closely supervised during certain playground activities.
  • Look out for any hazards on the playground that your child could trip over, like large rocks.
  • Make sure your child wears the right protective gear when they are active. For example, while biking or roller skating, children should always wear a helmet, and other protective gear such as knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards can be helpful as well.

Drowning Prevention
Swimming, bath time, and other water activities are fun and can help keep your child healthy and active. However, the risk of drowning is serious, so the right precautions need to be taken to keep children safe. Three children die every day as a result of drowning, so it is vital that you do everything you can to prepare and prevent water accidents.

The CDC recommends that everyone learns how to swim and perform CPR to keep those around them safe during water activities. There are lots of resources available in Utah to learn these skills - you can start by looking at classes offered through the American Red Cross.

The CDC also recommends that children wear life jackets in and around natural bodies of water, like oceans and lakes, even if your child knows how to swim. Life jackets can also save lives in swimming pools for children who are weaker swimmers. Make sure that children are properly supervised when they are near water. Children should never be left alone in or near swimming pools and bathtubs, because drowning can happen quickly.

Burn Prevention
Over 300 children are treated in emergency rooms every day for burn related injuries. Some important precautions to prevent your family from being burned include:

  • Make sure smoke alarms are installed on every floor of your home and in every room that a family member sleeps in. Change their batteries when necessary, and test them frequently to make sure they are working properly!
  • Go over a fire evacuation plan with your family. Make sure children who are old enough understand several ways to get out of the house and where they should meet outside in the event of an emergency.
  • Cook carefully! Don’t leave food unattended on the stove, supervise children when they’re in the kitchen, and make sure pot handles are turned inward to prevent them from being pulled down by small children.

Poisoning Prevention
Every household contains thousands of products that could be very dangerous to children if ingested, which is why the proper storage and handling of these products is so important. Always make sure that medications, cleaning supplies, paint, fuel, lawn and garden products, and other potentially toxic chemicals are kept well out of reach of children. Whenever you give your children medication, make sure that you read the instruction label carefully to ensure the correct dosage and timing. Also, make sure to dispose of any potentially toxic products and old medications when you no longer need them.
The Utah County Health Department puts on a Hazardous Household Waste Collection event every spring where you can bring old medications, chemicals, and other hazardous items to be disposed of properly. This year it will be held on Saturday, April 14, from 9:00 am - 3:00 pm in the Provo Towne Center Mall west parking lot. For more information about this event, go to

If a child ingests something potentially dangerous, but is still awake and alert, call the poison control center at (800) 222-1222. If your child is unconscious or not breathing, call 911. Keep the poison control number in a central location in your home and save the number in your cell phone!

For more information about keeping your children safe, check out the CDC’s full recommendations.

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