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Keeping Your Child Safe From Accidents

HCA image for child injuries Every year, there are children who require medical treatment, days home from school, and/or rest due to accidents. Some children suffer some form of permanent damage due to accidents, such as brain damage from a head injury, long-term breathing problems from smoke inhalation, disfigurement from burns, or liver or kidney damage from poisoning.

Main causes include:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents injure children either when they are riding in a vehicle as a passenger or are hit by a vehicle when they are a pedestrian or a bicycle rider. Children who are not properly secured in car seats or booster seats are at particularly high risk.

Follow these tips to help keep your kids safe:

Drowning

Babies and toddlers often drown when unsupervised in the bath. Toddlers are also at risk for drowning in small quantities of water, including the amount in a cleaning bucket, a toilet, or a child’s wading pool. Preschoolers are at great risk when unsupervised around swimming pools or ponds. Older children are at greater risk when they do not know how to swim, are not familiar with water currents or water safety rules, or dive into shallow water.

What can you do to keep your kids safe?

Burns

Younger children have a particularly high rate of scalding from exposure to hot water. Burn injuries also frequently occur when a child’s clothing catches fire.

To help keep you kids safe, follow these measures:

Poisoning

Poisoning in childhood is frequently due to household cleaning products, medications, vitamin supplements, plants, and cosmetics. Toddlers and preschoolers may be attracted to medications and vitamins because they resemble candy; cleaning products may look like sweet beverages; cosmetics may smell like fruit or candy. Because young children explore the world by putting things in their mouths, poisoning is a serious risk.

To keep your kids safe:

Choking and Suffocation

Foods such as hot dogs, hard candy, grapes, seeds, popcorn, and nuts—especially peanuts—are common culprits in choking deaths. Small toys (tiny rubber balls), too-small pacifiers, and bits of balloons are also common choking hazards. Children also are at-risk for becoming entangled in the ties on hoods, the strings that control window blinds, toys strung across cribs, and cords used to attach pacifiers to clothing.

What can you do to keep your kids safe?

Falls

Falls are a frequent cause of injury in children. Babies are at risk of falling from furniture, down stairs, or due to the use of baby walkers. Both toddlers and preschoolers are at risk for falling from windows and shopping carts. Older children tend to receive injuries falling from playground equipment, bikes or scooters.

What can you do to keep your kids safe?

Accidents Involving Firearms

Firearms can cause death, severe injury, and devastation. Accidents occur due to accidental discharge of a firearm, as well as due to their use during the commitment of homicide or suicide.

To keep your kids safe:

Supervise, Supervise, Supervise

These safety tips are by no means exhaustive; those listed are only the most basic of safety rules. You will also notice that the most consistent rule across every category is close supervision: No safety efforts can substitute for careful, consistent adult supervision. The children who are most at risk for accidental injury or death are those children who are not well-supervised by adults.

RESOURCES:

American Red Cross
http://www.redcross.org

Safe Kids Worldwide
http://www.safekids.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca

Canadian Red Cross
http://www.redcross.ca

REFERENCES:

Dowd M, Keenan D, Bratton H. Epidemiology and prevention of childhood injuries. Critical Care Med. 2002;30:385-392.

Protect the ones you love: Child injuries are preventable. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/safechild/NAP/background.html. Updated April 19, 2012. Accessed January 21, 2016.

Safety for your child: birth to 6 months. HealthyChildren.org website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/english/tips-tools/Pages/Safety-for-Your-Child-Birth-to-6-Months.aspx. Updated November 1, 2012. Accessed January 21, 2016.

1/13/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Franklin RL, Rodger GB. Unintentional child poisonings treated in United States hospital emergency departments: national estimates of incident cases, population-based poisoning rates, and product involvement. Pediatrics. 2008;122:1244-1251.

4/2/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Saki N, Nikakhlagh S, Rahim F, Abshirini H. Foreign body aspirations in infancy: a 20-year experience. Int J Med Sci. 2009;6(6):322-328.

5/28/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention. Policy statement—prevention of drowning. Pediatrics. 2010 May 24. [Epub ahead of print]

2/7/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Car safety seats: information for families 2013. American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Car-Safety-Seats-Information-for-Families.aspx . Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed January 21, 2016.

Last reviewed January 2016 by Michael Woods, MD  Last Updated: 2/7/2014