According to the latest Childhood Injury Report from the CDC, an average of 9.2 million children under the age of 19 visit the emergency room for accidental injuries every year. Approximately 12,175 of these children end up dying, and about 45 percent of these deaths occur in and around the home. Therefore, it is extremely important that anyone who works with children, whether they are a daycare worker or simply a parent, be aware of the things that can cause injury in children and work to prevent those injuries. The most common causes of accidents require education and awareness in order to help prevent them.
Injuries From Falls
More children are injured by falls than by any other type of accident. It only takes a caregiver turning her back for a second for such an injury to occur, but there are many precautions that can be taken to minimize the risk.
Install safety gates to block off stairways and other dangerous areas. Make sure that they fit properly, and that the children in your care can not knock them over.
Make sure that your playground area is covered with a minimum of twelve inches of a soft material such as mulch, wood chips, or rubber mats. This will help you to avoid potentially fatal head injuries caused by falls from playground equipment.
Cover up any slippery flooring with area rugs. Children have a tendency to run, and hardwood floors and tile can cause injury if they fall on it.
As much as possible, keep shelves and tables at the children’s level. Some children will climb no matter how many times you tell them not to, but if bookshelves and toy shelves are low to the ground they won’t have far to fall.
Choking, Strangulation and Suffocation
In children under the age of a year, the most common cause of death is airway obstruction. To avoid this tragedy, pay attention to the following areas:
Do not buy any toys that have small parts. In addition, make sure that your playthings are sturdy enough that a part cannot break off in a child’s mouth. The safest material is wood.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 160 children were strangled with window blinds between the years of 1991 and 2000. Try to avoid blinds and curtains with cords if possible, and if not, make sure that your cords are looped tightly out of the children’s reach.
Many babies have died getting caught in their crib or mattress. Therefore, crib slats should be no further apart than 2 3/8 inches, and there should be no space between the mattress and the frame of the crib. In addition, a baby should never be put to bed with pillows, heavy comforters, or soft bedding. The safest position for a baby to sleep in is on his back on a firm mattress.
Drawstrings around the neck of children’s coats can get caught in playground equipment and present a strangulation danger.
All plastic grocery bags should be thrown away immediately to avoid children putting them in their mouth or over their head.
Balloons are especially dangerous, because they pop easily in a child’s mouth. Additionally, they adhere tightly to the esophagus when they are wet. It is best to steer clear of them altogether in a childcare setting.
Drowning is the second most prevalent cause of accidental death in children between the ages of one and 14. In addition, it is possible for a child to drown in as little as an inch of water. To ensure that this doesn’t happen to the children in your care, follow the guidelines below:
- Make sure swimming pools are covered at all times.
- Supervise young children constantly when they are in the tub.
- Never leave water standing in a bathtub or sink.
Five percent of the deaths caused by unintentional injuries are the result of poisoning. It can be caused by a wide variety of things, including:
The CDC reported 568,939 cases of accidental ingestion of medications between 2001 and 2003, some of which were deadly. Childproof caps are often not enough to prevent this from happening, so keep all medications in locked cabinets out of children’s reach.
The area under the sink is not a safe place for cleaning products, even if it is protected by a childproof latch. Just like medicine, these chemicals should be kept high and locked.
Many people are unaware that many common potted plants, such as Iris, Catnip, and English Ivy, are poisonous. Make sure that you research any plants that you buy to ensure that they are safe for children.
People who work in child environments and parents can improve the safety of their child’s daily routine by simply practicing heightened awareness and through non-stop education on product safety and household dangers.