Child Safety: Preventing Accidental Injuries In Summer (Or Anytime)

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Don’t let summer fun turn into a summer fiasco. The active fun that comes with warm weather can lead to an increase in accidental injuries, but the truth is that preventable injuries and death are a common occurrence year-round.

“About 20 children die every day from preventable injury, that’s more than those who die from all diseases combined,” says Constance Kangas, a pediatric nurse practitioner with the Henry Ford Health System.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) injuries are the leading causes of death in children ages 19 and younger. The CDC considers preventable injuries among the most under-recognized public health problems facing our country today. It doesn’t have to be that way. Most child injuries can be prevented with greater awareness.

“Parents and caregivers play a major life-saving role in protecting children from injuries,” Kangas says. “The best way to prevent unintentional injuries is to be proactive and anticipate possible problems.”

Here are a few key tips to keeping your family safe:

  • Make your home environment safe. With children 1-4 years of age, the leading causes of unintentional injuries are drowning, falls and poisoning. Adults need to remain vigilant for possible injuries and provide as safe an environment as possible. Kangas says this means, among other things, “child-proofing” your home by keeping hazardous objects and toxic substances out of reach and/or locked away, setting your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, placing locked gates around any pool, and installing stair and safety gates wherever needed. Never leave an infant or small child on a bed or changing table unsupervised.Kangas also stresses that parents of infants should make sure they follow safe sleep recommendations, including placing their babies on their backs to sleep and never have your infant sleep in bed with you or other adults.
  • Teach kids safety rules on the sidewalk and the road. The leading cause of unintentional injuries both fatal and non-fatal is motor vehicle injuries, Kangas says, and prevention starts young. As a parent of a baby or toddler, follow vehicle safety reminders such as using the appropriate car seat for your child as he or she grows, and never place a rear-facing infant seat in front of an air bag.When walking or biking, teaching children simple safety procedures could save a life or prevent a serious injury. Even simple actions like strapping on a properly fitting bike helmet and crossing the street are an opportunity to instill safe habits into your child. “Make sure you teach your child pedestrian and biking safety – look right, look left, look right again – when crossing the street,” says Kangas.Set an example by following the rules of the road (and sidewalk) yourself, such as using crosswalks and obeying traffic signals, wearing your seatbelt every time you ride in a car and a bike helmet when you ride a bike.Safety lessons apply to older children, as well. Kangas urges parents to talk to teens about distracted driving, whether they are getting behind the wheel themselves or riding with a friend, and setting an example by not looking at your phone or performing other tasks while driving yourself.
  • Promote water safety. Teaching children to swim and following water safety rules helps prevent drowning but it is no guarantee. Make sure access to a swimming pool (no matter the size) or hot tub is restricted by a locked gate/door or other barrier, and that an adult is always present when the child swims or bathes. Always have your child wear a life jacket when out boating or enjoying time on a lake.

“Make your summer a safe one by leading by example and providing a safe environment to prevent unintentional injuries to your children,” Kangas says.


To find a doctor or pediatrician at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com/findadoc or call 1-800-HENRYFORO (436-7936).

Constance Kangas, NP, is a nurse practitioner specializing in pediatrics and seeing patients at Henry Ford Medical Center – Royal Oak and Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Categories: ParentWell

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