Accidental injuries are the leading cause of death in children and teens in the US. These preventable tragedies most often are caused by car accidents, drownings, falls, poisonings and fires.
As parents, we always want to keep our children safe and do what is best for them. How then, can we best protect them from becoming a statistic? Here are some tips.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute, child deaths involving a motor vehicle accident have dropped since 1975. Specifically deaths of children aged 13 and younger have decreased, however, car accidents are still responsible for 1 in 4 deaths.
What can you do to keep your kids safe in the event of a car accident?
- Properly buckle in your kids and using age, weight, and height appropriate child and booster seats. This is incredibly important and can help lower the risk of death from a car wreck. Driscoll Children’s Hospital even has an Injury Prevention Program that will inspect your child’s car seat free of charge to make sure it’s installed properly. Call (361) 694-6700 to schedule an appointment.
- Don’t use a cell phone while driving; it causes distractions.
- Never drink and drive, especially with a child in the car.
It’s fun living on the Texas Coast and great we can easily enjoy local beaches and swimming pools. However, young children, those aged 1-4, are most at risk for death by drowning. Accidental drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children 14 and younger.
What can you do to reduce risk of drownings?
- Enroll your children in formal swimming lessons to reduce risk of death by drowning in children. This includes children ages four and younger. A few local resources include Aqua Tots and City of Corpus Christi swim lessons, but there are many more!
- Provide proper supervision of children while around water. Real life drowning, called The Instinctive Drowning Response, does not look like it does in the movies. There is little to no splashing and no yelling for help. The drowning victim only has time to barely get in enough air to support life before their mouth slips below the surface of the water again. Their arms are spread out from their sides, trying to keep them afloat and can’t be lifted out of the water to wave for help.
- Create barriers around pools and other bodies of water to reduce drowning deaths in children. Make sure all barriers are properly closed, and keep a close eye on children when no barriers are present.
- Make sure children are wearing properly fitted, Coast Guard approved life-jackets in any situation where a life-jacket is recommended.
Children fall. A lot. Most falls result in just a bump or bruise, but some can be fatal.
What can you do to prevent fall injury?
- Always properly supervise your child to reduce risk of death from a fall.
- Inspect playground equipment to be sure it is not faulty, and that there is appropriate padding underneath in case of a fall at a playground.
- At home, install gates on stairs for younger children, and place guards on above ground windows.
- Use helmets and protective gear in sports, as they provide protection in the event of a fall. Some kids might even benefit from protective gear until they become more stable.
Most people think of accidental poisoning of children happening when kids drink household cleaners or eat a colorful laundry detergent pod. While it is important to keep all household cleaners away from the reach of children, they are not the only culprits. For children six and younger, personal care products and cosmetics are the leading cause of accidental poisonings, followed by cleaning products and pain medication.
Tips for protecting your kids from poisonings:
- Keep all potential toxic items out of the reach of children, and lock up medication if necessary.
- Keep all cleaning products and medication in their original packaging, so there is no confusion as to what those items are.
- Keep children away from toxic automotive items, such as antifreeze.
- Safety discard any unused or expired medication or cleaning products.
- Keep the phone number for Poison Control (1-800-222-1222) in your call and by every landline phone in your home.
Properly placed and functioning smoke detectors are key for preventing childhood deaths due to fire.
Tips for protecting your kids from fire:
- Keep smoke detectors on every floor and near every bedroom room.
- Test smoke detectors once a month, as recommended.
- Have a family escape plan. Discuss with your children how to get out of the house in the event of a fire, and where to meet once they have escaped. Practice the escape plan, and show everyone at least two ways out of every room.
- Be mindful when cooking. Never leave food on the stove unattended, and do not let children cook unsupervised.