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7 Common Child Injuries You Can Prevent

Cathie Ericson
Oct. 10, 2014

Be prepared for these safety issues with a few easy steps.

Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. How many times do we wish we could go back and change a situation to avoid an accident involving our child? The great news is that with a little foresight most childhood accidents and injuries can be avoided.

According to the Center for Disease Control, injury is the No. 1 killer of children in the United States. Every four seconds, a child is treated for an injury in the emergency department.

"What makes the topic of childhood injuries so important is that the result of an injury can range from a mild ailment to death in some cases," says Dr. Ashanti W. Woods, attending pediatrician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.

Alarmed? Instead, be prepared. Dr. Woods continues, "What is most important to remember is that injuries are often preventable."

Read on for the "Scary Seven" childhood injuries and commonsense ways to avoid them.

  1. Car Accidents
    Gulp! Who hasn't been confused about the weight limits or the proper way to use a safety seat? No, you can't prevent another driver from hitting you. But car seats and booster seats save lives. And Mom, Dad, nannies and babysitters, don't forget your own seatbelt!

    Not sure how to properly install your seat? Safe Kids Worldwide hosts free clinics across the country to help you out.
  2. Suffocation
    Sadly, infant suffocation remains a nursery nightmare. Dr. Woods recommends that parents remember their ABCs: have infants sleep Alone, on their Backs, in their Cribs (or a firm surface area like a bassinet or playpen).
  3. Drowning
    The best prevention here is making sure that your child learns to swim in a professional class or uses an approved life vest. Still, there's no substitute for a caregiver's watchful eye. "You do not take your eye off, even for a second, when they are in or around water," Dr. Woods says.
  4. Poisoning
    Safe Kids Worldwide recently released a research report identifying new insights into why kids are getting into medicine nearly 500,000 times per year, and the overwhelming cause is negligence on behalf of adults. "Parents and grandparents know to be careful," says Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, "but it's the exception. That one time when you leave your medicine in reach of a child -- that can lead to these alarming situations." Make sure you lock anything dangerous out of reach of kids -- and make sure your sitter does the same.
  5. Fire and Burns
    Most of us know that we should have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, but sometimes we forget to test them or change the batteries. Set reminders on your phone right now to check your alarm and batteries, and then check them again on the first day of every month. Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.

    Carr adds that a family escape plan is also essential. "Once you make sure your smoke alarms are working, it's important to have an escape plan with two ways out of your house in case of a fire. This may sound daunting, but planning ahead can be both important and a fun activity to do with your kids."
  6. Falls
    Windows, bikes, playground equipment -- the potentials for falls are all around us, particularly for our curious kids. Check your local playground to ensure there is a soft landing surface, always insist on bike helmets and make sure your windows have latches. As they say at Safe Kids: "Screens are meant to keep bugs out, not children in."
  7. Sports Injuries
    These can range from muscle pulls caused by a lack of stretching to dehydration from too few water breaks to more serious injuries caused by a lack of safety equipment or proper oversight. Carr says, "Make sure your coach creates routines that athletes and parents can follow during every practice and game, such as enforcing hydration breaks, encouraging players to sit out if injured, resting if not feeling well and facilitating a proper warm-up." Check out this Sports Safety Checklist for Coaches and share with your local league and any caregivers.

    Concussions are also serious business. Parents, nannies and coaches should know what to watch for and how to treat them.

The number one way to prevent injuries is to be vigilant. Put down your smartphone (ahem!), check your surroundings and take all the preventable actions you can to safeguard your child and those in your care.

Cathie Ericson is a parent of three crazy boys and a freelance writer and editor.

* This article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be providing medical advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The reader should always consult a health care provider concerning any medical condition or treatment plan. Neither Care.com nor the author assumes any responsibility or liability with respect to use of any information contained herein.

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