Brad Winfrey–Center for Childhood Safety and Injury Prevention
Most childhood injuries can be prevented and knowing how to prevent an accident is key to keeping children safe.
We’ve all been taught the basics. Buckle-up in the car, wear a bike helmet and look both ways before crossing the road. But there are several other simple things you can do (some you might not have heard of before) that can protect you and your family.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the leading causes of death for children is car accidents. In most cases, the child was not properly restrained. Studies have shown 80 percent of car seats are used incorrectly, which increases the chance of a child being seriously injured or killed in a crash.
To help prevent injuries, make sure the child is in the right type of seat per age and weight, and that it’s properly restrained in the correct location of the car. Each car seat is different, so follow the manufacture guidelines and how it should be properly installed.
Here are some other important thing to remember about car seat safety:
The base of the car seat shouldn't move an inch in any direction.
Car seats can be secured either by a LACTH system or seat belts. Both are safe. However, read the car owner's manual. SUV’s have several hooks, but a lot of them aren't made for car seat anchors and may not have the durability to hold up in a crash.
A lot of car seats get handed down from family members and friends, never use a car seat that's been in a crash, and check for recalls and an expiration date.
4’9” Booster Time! A child who is about age 4 to age 8, and under 4'9" tall, and who has outgrown a forward-facing child safety seat should use a booster seat with a lap-shoulder belt.
All children age 12 and under should always ride in the back seat.
Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for children. According to the CDC, almost 2.8 million kids are treated in U.S. emergency rooms each year for fall-related injuries.
While falls on the playground are the most common, they can happen anywhere. Here are a few safety tips to help protect children whether outside or at home.
Playground equipment should be surrounded by soft landing material such as mulch, wood chips, pea gravel or a rubber safety surface.
Children should wear protective gear during sports and a helmet while riding a bike.
Avoid baskets on the front of bikes or overloading backpacks, which can throw off a child’s balance.
Use non-slip decals or a mat in the bathtub and a non-skid rug on the bathroom floor.
Install sturdy handrails on both sides of the stairway and keep stairs clutter free.
For infants, use the safety belt on highchairs and changing tables.
Make sure all cribs, changing tables, playpens and beds are placed away from windows.
Secure heavy and/or tall furniture to the wall, so it doesn’t tip over and fall on the child.
Pedestrian Accidents (Walking and Biking)
Pedestrian accidents are on the rise as more drivers become distracted by smartphones. The most common reason children are hit by cars is because kids will dart into the street without looking and drivers simply don’t see them or they can’t stop in time.
Parents often think children can cross the street by themselves before they are ready, but really kids don't have the necessary skills until at least age 10. Younger kids often run across the street without looking both ways. If you think a child is safe to cross the street, BE WARY, children forget safety lessons during moments of fun and excitement.
Here are some other tips, especially as kids head back to school.
Walk the child’s route to school and make sure there’s a sidewalk the entire way.
Make sure the sidewalk is in good condition. Children tend to walk or ride bikes in the road if the sidewalk is bumpy and they’re worried about falling.
Children should always use the crosswalk if there is one.
Make sure children take five giant steps away from the road while waiting for the school bus and avoid rough play.
Teach children to ask the bus driver for help if something is dropped near the bus. If a child tries to pick up the item the driver may not see him or her and the child could be hit by the bus.
Teach children not to assume a driver sees them when they’re getting ready to cross the street. (Drivers should also keep in mind kids are often distracted and shouldn’t assume that a child see them either.)
Kids should look both ways before crossing the street even when a crossing guard is present.
Fire and Burns
Every day, more than 300 children are treated in emergency rooms for burn-related injuries and two children die as a result of being burned.
According to the CDC, younger children are more likely to sustain injuries from scald burns, such as hot liquid or steam, while older children are more likely to sustain injuries from direct contact with flames.
There are several things you can do to protect your child from being injured due to fire and burns.
Check smoke detectors monthly, change batteries twice each year and replace smoke detectors every 10 years.
Have a plan in case of a fire and practice the plan once a month, which includes a meeting place outside.
Store chemicals properly and keep flammable liquids out of reach.
Don’t overload electrical sockets, which can contribute to a house fire.
Unused outlets should have electrical covers, so kids can’t stick anything in it and get electrocuted.
Children should not be near hot stoves and position pot handles away from the edge, which can be easily grabbed.
Test heated foods, especially those warmed in a microwave, before giving to a child.
The hot water heater should be set at less than 125 degrees. Use a candy or BBQ thermometer to check the water temperature by running the water over the thermometer for 3-5 minutes.
Make sure the bath water isn’t too hot. Use a baby bath thermometer.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death among babies between one month and one year of age. A new study shows a baby's risk of death from being placed in an unsafe sleeping position or location is higher when they're under the care of a babysitter, relative or friend. It’s important for parents to practice and share these safe sleeping tips with anyone watching their child to help lower the risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation.
Always place baby to sleep on his or her back at naptime and at night.
Remove all soft bedding and toys from the baby’s sleep area.
Crib pads or crib bumpers should not be used.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests using a wearable blanket or sleep sack instead of loose blankets in the bed.
Never dress the baby too warmly for sleep and keep room temperature at 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit.
The crib mattress is firm and fits snugly without gaps.
The space between the crib slats is no more than 2-3/8 inches apart (approximately 2-3 finger widths).