Here’s a quiz for parents: Do you know what the five leading causes of childhood fatalities are? You may be surprised to learn that traffic accidents are the primary cause of death and disability in children. Drowning is second, followed by burns, falls and poisoning.
By the numbers
In fact, unintentional accidents are the leading cause of death to kids ages 19 and under. The leading causes of injury and death differs by age group: for example, with children less than 1 year of age, two-thirds of injuries and deaths are due to suffocation; drowning was the leading cause for those 1 to 4 years of age; and for ages 5 to 19, the leading culprit is motor vehicle traffic accidents.
Surprised? What’s really amazing is that most of the fatalities are completely preventable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitors the annual figures of unintentional injuries and death to children in the United States. According to the CDC, over 9 million kids visit hospital emergency rooms each year to treat unintentional injuries. The CDC also estimates that approximately 33 children die every day from an accidental injury. This means that thousands of kids’ lives could be saved through simple preventative measures.
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The CDC recently launched an initiative called Protect the Ones You Love to stem the number of preventable injuries and deaths to children. Specifically, it’s targeting parents in its campaign, hoping to galvanize an interest in reducing accidental mishaps and tragedies. The CDC program offers many ideas to parents about eliminating potential hazards and offers some great tools and support, including safety ecards, pointers and advice.
How Children’s Hospital helps
Closer to home, Children’s Hospital of Michigan recently installed a Safety Center in the lobby of its Detroit hospital. The center, which is open to the public, offers a broad variety of low-cost products to help prevent injuries to children, including children with disabilities or special health care needs.
Among the products that are available in the center are car seats, bike helmets, smoke detectors, cabinet locks, outlet covers and carbon monoxide detectors. Well-trained staff also provides education and info on how to use these products properly and effectively to ensure their children’s protection and safety. Education and demonstrations are included with each purchase, and personal assessments appointments are available by calling 313-745-1111.
Another important component of the hospital’s Safety Center is "Safe Escape," a program that helps families with disabilities and special needs prepare for safe escape during emergencies. In this program, families meet with a trained hospital employee to evaluate home life and emergency evacuation concerns along with their children’s health condition. The hospital then helps the families select the appropriate products that address these concerns.
Says Dr. Herman Gray, president of Children’s Hospital of Michigan, "Child injury prevention needs to be an important priority for all children and their families." Indeed, there are many things parents can do to prevent accidents. The first step is awareness; the second is action.
Make a commitment to safety! Make a list of the accident prevention measures you currently have with your family; take an inventory of the safety products that you use and promote with your children; take stock of what still needs to be done – and then, take action.
Work to prevent a tragedy before it’s too late. Of course, even with parental supervision, accidents can – and will – happen, but a parents’ awareness of safety concerns and issues is crucial in eliminating many foreseeable mishaps and accidents.
Incidentally, safety items make great gifts for parents and children. For new or expecting parents, consider a diaper bag filled with safety products to help them keep their new baby safe. Even the holidays are appropriate times to give safety products as gifts. After all, what’s more precious than your kids’ safe-keeping?