Harmony Miller, MPH
Each year, an estimated 8.7 million children are treated in emergency rooms for unintentional injuries. 225,000 of them are hospitalized. Every day, about 2 dozen children die from their injuries.
That is 9,000 preventable child deaths, every year.
Unintentional injuries include those caused by suffocation, drowning, falls, motor vehicle collisions, and concussion or traumatic brain injury, as opposed to intentional injuries from child abuse or violence.
Accidents happen, but too many children are hurt in “accidents” that are preventable.
Preventing injury for America’s children is everyone’s responsibility.
Unfortunately, many unintentional injuries result from intentional disregard for safe practices or prevention measures.
Whether you are a parent, grandparent, caregiver, teacher, or person without children, you can impact children’s safety. There are many things that we can do individually or together to help reduce childhood injury.
What you can do:
Practice safety in everything you do! Children look to adults for cues on acceptable behavior, and will mimic your safe behavior.
Drive carefully. Obey school bus stop signs, do not speed, and pay attention to pedestrians and crosswalks. Pledge to stop driving distracted or using your phone behind the wheel – behavior that results in more and more car accidents and injuries.
Spread the message! If you hear about a safety hazard, tell others about it. Social media is a great tool for sharing safety information. Detergent pods are a good example of a new product that posed a serious risk to young children: many parents learned about it through Facebook or Twitter.
What your family can do:
Store poisonous substances where children cannot access them, even if you don’t often have kids at your home. Many pills and cleaning products look like candy or toys to small children.
Attend a free child safety seat check. Safety professionals will make sure the seat is correctly installed in your vehicle, and that you have the right seat size. In Oregon, children under 56 inches are required to be in a booster seat.
Keep your home’s windows closed, locked, and secured. Children can fall out of an opening as narrow as 4 inches wide, so keep your window locks and stops on.
Learn walking and bike riding safety. Teach children not to dart into the street, to use crosswalks and look both ways, and not to stand or play behind vehicles. Your child needs to wear a bike helmet every single time they ride their bike: a traumatic head injury can result from a simple fall in your driveway.
Support your local safety organizations. In Oregon, Safe Kids Oregon and the 8 coalitions statewide focus on reducing unintentional injury for children ages 0-19. It is easy to volunteer – go to Safekids.org/get-involved.