Injury Prevention in Childhood
Accidents do happen, but there are ways to help limit the risk or degree of injury for kids on the move.
The top mechanism of injury for children is during travel in motor vehicles. Injury prevention for travel in vehicles starts with appropriate use of safety belts. Car seats with five-point harness buckles should be used in a rear-facing position until the toddler outgrows the seats upper limit of weight and length for rear-facing. The toddler can then be faced forward and remain in the five-point harness until the age of 5 as a minimum. The child should then use a booster seat until reaching the height of 57 inches to ensure proper positioning of the seatbelt on their shoulder.
Another area with car safety in pediatrics is with children overheating in hot cars. Never leave a child unattended in a car and use visual reminders to avoid accidentally leaving a child in a car, especially during times when you are out of your typical daily routine.
Drowning is a leading cause of accidental death. Pool fences, alarms on doors and door locks that are out of reach of a small child are helpful in preventing unintentional access to close-by open water. Closing doors to bathrooms or using toilet seat locks can also be barriers to standing water for a curious toddler. Adults should always pour out buckets of water or empty bathtubs when not in use. Remember to never leave a child unattended in any level of water.
Unfortunately, even during exercise and physical activity, a child can be injured. Using appropriate equipment and technique of play during a sport practice or game can be a great way to limit the risk for or the amount of injury during sports. Other activities such as skateboarding, roller skating and bicycle riding can be fall risks, so routinely use a helmet along with knee and elbow pads. Avoiding dangerous tricks and keeping alert will also help to avoid falls.
Parents should routinely assess the home as well as the child’s toys, cups, pacifiers and teethers for anything that is broken or inappropriately secured that could become a hazard. Avoid necklaces or bracelets that can become a risk for choking or suffocation. Assess the surroundings of the home for places that a curious child may find interesting to play, but can unfortunately lead to injury or death if they become trapped. Things such as wells, large water tanks, mechanical equipment and household appliances such as washing machines can seem fun or good places for hide and seek but can have a very unintended outcome.
Educate your child on the reasons for safety measures, and that these measures are only helpful if they are always followed. Please allow us as pediatricians to discuss these topics with you and your family during the routine well child visits. For any questions, please contact our office to get more information from some of your favorite Board Certified Pediatricians in Oviedo.
Nicole Cameron MD FAAP