By Michelle Sliver
This week a national campaign by the Child Injury Prevention Alliance (CIPA) has been dedicated to preventing child injury. Injuries are the leading cause of death of children 0-19 and account for 9 million emergency department visits, 9,000 deaths, and more than $11.5 billion dollars annually (CDC). Somehow injury treatment is the number one cost of medical spending for children, yet many child injuries are preventable and predictable.
One might ask how we can predict and prevent random unintentional child injuries. We must focus our prevention efforts to those we know are at a greater risk for injury. Child injuries are nearly twice as likely to occur among boys than girls. Children of lower SES, certain minority populations (American Indians and Alaska Natives), and those living in the southern part of the U.S. are also at a greater risk. Some injuries are more common for different ages, such as suffocation for children under 1, drowning’s among children ages 1-4, and traffic occupancy accidents for those 5-19.
Here are a few ways to prevent the most common unintentional child injuries:
- Burns-Install smoke detectors, cook safely and away from kids, create a fire escape plan, and monitor water heater temperatures
- Drownings-Parents should learn to swim and CPR, fence off swimming pools, supervise constantly, and always make sure kids are wearing life jackets
- Falls-Supervise at home, on the playground, and while kids are playing
- Poisonings-Lock up medications and toxic substances, get rid of medications you don’t need, always read the label, and keep the poison control center phone number near phones
- Road traffic injuries-Make sure children use the correct car seat or booster seat and that they are always buckled in in the back seat
- Sports injuries-Use protective gear, monitor the temperature, and demonstrate appropriate and safe behavior
- Suffocation-Parents should know basic first aid and CPR, always cut food into small pieces and supervise mealtime, and create a safe sleeping environment
Once a child injury has occurred, there’s no guarantee that they will make a full recovery, which is why prevention is essential. We must educate ourselves, parents, and children about how to make smart choices and take every step possible to prevent child injury. Each and every one of us has the power to help decrease the risk of a child getting hurt.