Help Prevent Childhood Injuries - Part I

The Texas Children’s Center for Childhood Injury Prevention publishes a number of fact and advice sheets to help parents and caregivers keep their little ones safe.  Their website is a good source of advice and tips for keeping your babies and children safe, both in and out of the house.  No matter how many children you have or how many kids you have taken care of, it is always good to be reminded of the basic steps and actions you can take to keep children safe each and every day.  We offer a few safety tips below to help you keep your children safe.  While you may have heard many of these tips before, but it is important to be reminded of how easy it is to prevent injuries and accidents with proper supervision and safeguards.

Babies should sleep on their backs, in a crib

Some new parents like to cuddle with their new babies so much that they snooze with them on the couch or in the bed.  The problem here is that couches and beds are very soft and are usually covered in pillows and blankets, all of which are suffocation hazards for babies.  In addition, the lack of rails on beds and couches means that babies can easily roll off, which can result in concussions or broken bones.  Experts agree that the safest place for your baby is in his or her crib with the crib rails raised, no fluffy bedding or stuffed animals, and on his or her back.  More information about safe sleep for babies can be found at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s website.

Watch out for choking hazards

Food and playthings are the two main sources of choking hazards for babies and young children.  Experts recommend clearing your child’s play area of any objects that can pass through a toilet-paper roll, as anything they are a choking hazard.  In addition, it is very important to heed age restriction labels on toys.  Manufacturers place minimum age limits on toys for very good reasons, and for younger children it is often because of the danger of choking.  Another way to ensure playtime safety is to make sure your child is always supervised.

Meal and snack time is another opportunity to watch out for your child’s safety.  Some foods that are well-known choking hazards include peanuts, grapes, raw carrots, hot dogs, and popcorn.  Large chunks of fruit (like apples or pears that are not very ripe, or big bites of banana) can also be dangerous.  So keep these hazards away from children under the age of 5, cut foods into small pieces before feeding, and always make sure you supervise meal and snack time.  You should also learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), rescue breathing, and first aid for choking.  Check with your local Red Cross chapter for classes.

Ditch the walker

With nearly 20,000 children treated annually for baby walker related injuries, it is a surprise these products are still on the market.  Mobile baby walkers are considered so dangerous that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) even called for, “'a ban on the manufacture and sale of baby walkers with wheels.”  If you are tempted to buy a walker for your child because you think your child will walk faster, then take note – studies have shown that babies that use walkers don’t walk any earlier than those that don’t, and often it even causes them to walk later.  To keep your child safe, stay away from mobile walkers.

Supervise around water – Always!

Whether your child is in the bath or near a pool, spa, or hot-tub, never ever leave them alone, even “just for a second”.  Keep in mind that the majority of childhood drownings happen when a child is unsupervised or when supervision has lapsed (for example, a parent or caregiver steps away to answer the phone).  Don’t rely on a sibling to watch a younger child in a bath or near water, and when you’re at the pool or the beach don’t rely solely on the lifeguard.  Also make sure that other sources of water, like buckets and toilets, are kept safe from curious children, who are top-heavy and can easily drown.  Finally, make sure that pools and spas have a high enough fence around them, and a self-latching gate.

Cook Safely With Kids

 According to Safe Kids USA, thousands of children are injured every year in burn accidents, especially those aged 4 and under.  Scald burns, which are caused by hot water or steam, are the most common type of burn injury for younger children.  However flame burns are the most common kind of burn for older children.  Just like with water, never leave a child alone in the kitchen or near an open flame (like a candle or a fireplace).  When cooking, make sure you turn pot handles away from the edge of the stove, so a curious child can’t reach up and pull the pot off the stove.  Keep coffee pots and other hot beverages out of children’s reach, and always test food or drink from the stove or microwave before you give it to your child.

Is your family ready for a fire?

Experts recommend that you check your smoke alarm each month to make sure it works, and that you change the batteries every year.  But this isn’t enough – you also need to teach your child what the smoke alarm sounds like and what it means.  Develop a fire escape plan, share it with your family, and practice it regularly.  In case of a fire, make sure your kids know to test doorknobs before they go through a doorway to see if they are hot, and that they know to crawl on the floor if there is smoke in the air.  Finally, teach your children to “stop, drop, and roll” if they ever catch on fire.

For more information, please see the second part of our library series on keeping children safe, "Help Prevent Childhood Injuries – Part II"

No matter how careful you are or how many precautions you take, it is always possible that your baby or child could be injured in an accident through no fault of your own.  The Houston based law firm of VB Attorneys cares about you and your child’s safety.  We are not intimidated by powerful manufacturers and insurance companies looking out for their own best interests.  If you or someone you love has been injured or killed or hurt by a defective or dangerous product, contact the attorneys at VB Attorneys today. Our experienced attorneys will review your case, free of charge, when you call us at 877.724.7800.

Vuk Stevan Vujasinovic
Experienced Injury Lawyer. First Generation American. Life-Long Texan. Husband. Father.