Top 6 Causes of Pediatric Injury (And How to Prevent Them)

null Did you know injuries are the leading cause of death in children under the age of 19; approximately 9 million children visit the emergency room due to injury; and the annual cost of child injuries in the United States is about $11.5 billion? Protect your child from the top causes of pediatric injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by following the important safety tips listed below.

1. Motor Vehicle Accidents

Fast Facts

· Almost 150 children receive emergency room care for injuries sustained from motor vehicle accidents every hour.
· Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death in children ages 5 to 19.

Car Seat Safety Guidelines

Rear-Facing Seats:
  • Keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing seats, as long as possible.
  • At minimum, keep infants rear-facing until 1 year old and at least 20 pounds.
Forward-Facing Seats:
  • Once children outgrow rear-facing seats, replace it with a forward-facing seat, but still keep it in the backseat until around 4 years old and 40 pounds.
Booster Seats
  • This type of seat should be used once forward-facing seats are outgrown and until the seatbelts in the back seat fit appropriately, no matter the age and weight. Seat belts fit when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest, typically at age 8 or at approximately 4’9” tall.
Seat Belts
  • It goes without saying but, when the booster seat is outgrown, make sure your children buckle up with the built-in seat belts in whichever seat the child uses. It’s highly recommended that all children age 13 and under should ride in the back seat.
Find all these car seat safety guidelines, and resources for more help here.

2. Suffocation

Fast Facts

· Infants are more likely to suffocate while sleeping.
· Choking on food or other small objects is the most common cause of suffocation in toddlers.

Safety Tips

· Place infants on their backs on a firm surface every time they sleep; make sure he or she sleeps in a crib or bassinet (rather than in your bed); clear the sleeping environment of blankets, stuffed animals, toys, loose bedding and mobiles.
· Always supervise your child when eating; pre-cut food into bite-size pieces; remind child to chew food thoroughly and swallow before talking, laughing or taking another bite; do not let your child eat during play or recreation.
· Check a toy package’s choking hazard label to learn if it is safe to let a child play with.
· Learn basic first aid and CPR in case of emergency.

3. Drowning

Fast Facts

· Drowning is the leading cause of fatal injury in children ages 1 to 4.
· Every day, three children die from drowning.
· In 2012, there were 43 unintentional drowning deaths in people of all ages in Iowa, the highest amount since 2005.

Safety Tips

· Never leave your child unsupervised near water; do not trust a child’s safety to another child; teach your child to ask permission before entering water.
· Sign up your child for age-appropriate swimming lessons to learn the basics, including floating and moving through water.
· You and your child should always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket around natural bodies of water
· If you have a pool at home, install a four-side fence with self-closing and self-latching gates to keep children from accidentally wandering in unsupervised.

4. Poisoning

Fast Facts

· More than 300 children age 19 and younger receive emergency room care for poisoning each day – two of which will be fatal.
· Household chemicals, cleaners and medicines are the most common sources of poisoning in children.

Safety Tips

· Keep toxic products and medicines locked away and/or out of children’s reach.
· Read labels and follow directions before administering medicine to children.
· If medicine is unused, unneeded or expired, safely dispose of it in one of two ways: mix with coffee grounds or kitty litter and throw away or take to a local take-back program.

5. Burns

Fast Facts

· Every day, approximately 300 children go to the emergency room for burn-related injuries.
· Two children die every day from being burned.
· Hot liquids or steam are the most common cause of burn injury in young children.
· Flame burns caused by direct contact with fire are the most common cause of burn injury in older children.

Prevention Tips

· Install smoke alarms on every floor and near every bedroom in your home; test them once a month to make sure they are working.
· Develop and practice a home fire escape plan with your family using the National Fire Protection Association’s home escape plan grid.
· Supervise your children in the kitchen, assisting with the use of stoves, ovens and microwaves; never leave hot food unattended on the stove or in children’s reach.
· Check to make sure your water heater is at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

6. Falls

Fast Facts

· Falls are the top cause of non-fatal injuries for all children under age 19.
· About 8,000 children receive emergency room care for injuries caused by a fall each day – that’s 2.8 million children a year.

Prevention Tips

· Keep an eye on your child as they play on the playground; make sure playground equipment is safe, sturdy and shock-absorbent.
· Your child should wear appropriate safety gear, such as a helmet and padding, when playing sports or during recreation.
· Prevent injury in the house by using home safety devices, like window guards, stair gates and guardrails.

As a parent, keeping your child out of harm’s way is a top priority, and the good news is most child injuries can be prevented. In the event that your child does sustain injury, turn to Blank Children’s Level II Trauma Center for dedicated care during a medical emergency.
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