Showing posts with label leading cause of childhood deaths. Show all posts
Showing posts with label leading cause of childhood deaths. Show all posts

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Emergency Room: No Place for Children

Growing up involves getting hurt sometimes. Children play hard, sometimes bumping into things or falling. Unfortunately, serious preventable injuries also occur – some that result in trips to the ER, resulting in disabilities or even death.  Consider these real-life examples:
  • On Halloween 2012, 15-year-old Christina Morris-Ward, dressed in dark clothes and wearing headphones, crossed the street while looking down at her phone. She was struck and killed by an oncoming car.
  • In July of 2003, the Beaudette family was heading home from a family vacation. En route, the mother briefly unbuckled their 9-month-old daughter, Nora, to remove some clothing layers. Nora was only unbuckled for a few seconds – exactly when they were involved in a crash. Nora died as the emergency vehicle reached the hospital.
If you have the stomach for it, has more than a dozen such sobering stories of preventable childhood accidents with tragic outcomes, useful for sharing with others to emphasize specific childhood accident risks.

The fact is that preventable injuries remains the leading cause of childhood deaths in the U.S.  according to the World Health Organization, with preventable injuries killing about 2,000 children every day. The statistics are overwhelming:
  • According to the CDC, almost 9 million children each year are seen in emergency departments for injuries, and more than 9,000 children die from these injuries.
  • Safe Kids Worldwide stats show that an average of eight minutes does not go by without a younger child going to the emergency room due to medicine poisoning, and that poison control centers receive about one call every minute for help with a medicine poisoning a child under age six. 
  • More from the CDC:
    • Rates of traffic-related injuries are highest for children aged 5–19 years.
    • Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries.
    • Death rates for drowning exceed those from falls, fires, pedal cycle injuries, pedestrian injuries, and poisoning combined.
The sad truth is that about one million families each year will lose a child to such preventable injuries. Can they be prevented? Maybe not entirely, but the intent of Safe Kids Day is to reduce the overwhelming volume of preventable child injuries. 

April is the month of Safe Kids Day, a day in which child advocacy organizations worldwide publicly highlight the need to protect our kids from preventable injuries – statistically the highest cause of death in the U.S.

Is the Safe Kids Day goal realistic? Since the percentages vary from country to country, it appears absolutely possible to create a safer world for our children.  If the U.S. child injury rates were as low as Sweden’s, for instance, about 4,700 U.S. children's lives would be saved each year.

The holistic approach to childhood injury prevention is to identify how and where children are injured – whether at home, at play, or on the way – and then taking steps through awareness programs and legislation to improve the safety statistics.

Some of the more common sources of serious injuries to our youngest include accidents related to batteries (swallowing etc.), bicycles, falls, fires, driveway incidents, guns, heatstroke, medicines, playgrounds, boating, burns and scalds, carbon monoxide poisoning, choking and strangulationHalloween and other holidays, and more.  

Steps to avoiding serious childhood accidents

Here are some practical steps you can take to keep your children out of the ER:
  • Regularly check to ensure that your child’s car seat seatbelt attachment has less than one inch of movement.
  • Make sure pot handles are turned inward while cooking.
  • Use safety plugs in unused wall sockets.
  • Don't mow the lawn when children are playing anywhere nearby.
  • Put gates at the top of stairways when you have young children.
  • Keep baby crib sides fastened.
  • When bathing a baby, always check bath water temperature before putting your child in.
  • Avoid using pillows with your sleeping baby.
  • Choose high chairs with a broad base to prevent tipping.
  • Be careful when using plastic bags, especially dry-cleaner bags.
  • Secure all stores of chemical and cleaning products, like drain clog cleaners, oven cleaners, furniture polish, and other toxic substances.
  • Use safety latches for cabinets.
  • Secure tip-able furniture and appliances.
  • Check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms monthly and replace batteries annually.
  • Make sure all medicines in your home are out of reach of children – don’t forget about vitamins or medications in purses or left on counters!
  • Remove small swallowable objects from your child’s living areas. Coin-sized watch batteries look like candy to a toddler, and are often swallowed with disastrous result.
Get more child safety tips at the CDC’s Child Safety site. Or learn more about Safe Kids Day 2015 at

Live Healthy. Live Smart.