By Michelle LaRowe
Whenever I hear that a child has fallen out of a window or drowned in a hot tub, I can’t help but feel a mix of emotions: sorrow for the family who lost their child in such a tragic way and anger because a child’s death could have been prevented.
According to WakeMed Health & Hospitals, preventable injuries are the number one killer of children ages 14 and under in the United States. The North Carolina based healthcare system asserts that “90% of these injuries could be prevented if families took the simple steps necessary to protect their children.”
The Center for Disease Control reports that over 12,000 children died during the period of 2000-2006 as a result of an unintentional injury. Parents and nannies must work together to create a safe environment for children to explore and interact with their world. While all safety risks can’t be eliminated, they can certainly be minimized to reduce the likelihood of a child becoming victim to a preventable injury.
Whether you are a parent or a nanny, it’s vital that you are familiar with preventable injuries and take steps to protect the children in your care.
Preventable injuries include:
Crib Suffocation – Infants can become suffocated by crib bumpers, soft bedding, loose blankets, and cuddly toys. Removing bumpers, using a sleep sack, and putting the baby to bed with nothing else in the crib can help prevent suffocation.
Window Falls – Children can climb onto windowsills and fall out of open windows. Keeping windows closed and locked when not being used for ventilation, installing window guards with a quick release system, removing furniture to discourage climbing to look out of the window, and supervising children when in rooms and areas with windows can help to prevent window falls.
Drowning Deaths – From a few inches of water in a bathtub, to kiddie pools, to in ground swimming pools and large bodies of water, always practice touch supervision when children are in and around water. Never assume someone else is watching your child. Always stay within an arm’s reach to prevent drowning.
Heatstroke – Especially in young athletes, the risk of heatstroke is a real concern. Keeping children hydrated, having planned water breaks, reducing activity when the heat index is high, and cooling overheated children down quickly can help prevent heatstroke in children.
Hyperthermia – As of August 2012, 15 children have already died from hyperthermia as a result of being left in a vehicle, according to the San Francisco University the Department of Geo Sciences website. Preventing deaths from vehicle related hyperthermia is easy: never leave a child in a motor vehicle unattended. Parents and nannies should commit to always checking the backseat before leaving the vehicle.
Burns – “Keep your pot handles turned in” is more than just a catchy public service announcement tune; it’s a way to prevent accidental burns. Keeping hot liquids out of the reach of children, setting your water thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and keeping kids away from cooking surfaces and grills can help prevent accidental burns.
Crashes – It’s estimated that 80%-90% or more of car seats are installed wrong or are used incorrectly. A correctly installed and used car seat can help prevent injury or death to children who are in a motor vehicle accident. Always have a certified passenger safety technician check your seat installation to be sure it is being installed and used correctly.
Poisoning – Access to harmful medications and chemicals can be prevented. You should always store medications and chemicals out of sight and out of the reach of children. Store medications in locked boxes and store cleaning supplies in locked cabinets. Many women carry around medication with them. Be sure to keep the pocketbooks of visitors out of reach to children to prevent accidental access.
Lawn Mower Accidents – Many dads consider having junior help mow the lawn a real bonding experience. According to the Children’s Trust of South Carolina, there are 68,000 injuries related to lawn mowers each year. From driving the ride-on mower to helping push the foot propelled mower, each year children die and suffer serious injuries that result in amputation as a result of helping to mow the lawn.
Parents and nannies should work together and be proactive in preventing unintentional injuries. Take regular assessment of the places the child spends the most time and ensure that the appropriate measures have been taken to create an age-appropriate area that promotes free exploration while minimizing the risk of preventable injuries.
Don’t let a child you love become a statistic. While not every serious injury can be prevented, many of them can.