Common Childhood Injuries
Did you know that the leading cause of death and disability in children ages 1 to 4 is home accidents? This is the sad and surprising truth, as reported by the National Safety Council (NSA). The NSA actually refers to these incidents as "unintentional injuries" instead of "accidents," because in most cases they could have been prevented.
While no home can be 100 percent safe, you can greatly reduce the chance of your child getting hurt in your own home using the following information on hidden dangers.
Five Most Common Childhood Injuries
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, almost two million emergency department visits each year come from injuries children receive at home. To better understand how to protect yourself—and your child—from an unwanted trip to the ER, familiarize yourself with these five most common childhood injuries:
- Falls: Injury-prevention experts agree falls are at the top of the list when it comes to nonfatal injuries among children from birth to the age of 14 months. Why so many fall-related injuries? "Babies are top-heavy," explains Angela Mickalide, director of Education and Outreach for the Home Safety Council. Dr. Mickalide adds that babies learn how to climb onto objects before they learn how to climb down.
- Poisoning: According to Safe Kids Worldwide, in 2002, an estimated 111,870 children ages 14 and under were treated in emergency rooms for unintentional poisoning (80 percent were children 4 years old and younger). Toxic household cleaners pose a serious risk, as do colorful prescription and over-the-counter medicines that lure curious toddlers.
- Drowning: "Drowning happens quickly and silently," says Carol O. Ball, Manager of Unintentional Injury Prevention at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. According to a September 2003 report from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of about 250 children under age 5 drown in pools nationwide each year, and about 115 additional young children drown in other products in and around the homes—including bathtubs, buckets, toilets, hot tubs, spas, and other containers.
- Fires and Burns: Of the five injury causes, fires are the most fatal. Beyond dying from burns, children's small bodies absorb smoke more quickly, making them susceptible to suffocation.
- Suffocation or Airway Obstruction: The majority of suffocation deaths occur in the sleeping environment, says Ball. Babies can become trapped on their stomachs and suffocate in soft bedding or even a parent sleeping next to them. Children can also suffocate when their airways becomes blocked. Coins, toys, buttons, popcorn, cookies, and other small objects can lodge in a child's airway if swallowed.
Now that you know how your baby can become injured, carefully consider what you can do to make your home safer. In addition to following our room-by-room guide, keep the number for poison control near the phone and always have your family's health information and insurance cards handy in case of an accident.