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Inside Pediatrics Podcast

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Nov. 15, 2022) — Injuries and violence are the leading cause of death and disabilities for people aged one to 44. Statistics such as these have led injury and violence prevention organizations, such as Children’s of Alabama, to team up for the third annual National Injury Prevention Day.

“We see a lot of injuries in the emergency department, and so many of them are preventable. It is very important for parents to know this information to protect their children,” said Dr. Alicia Webb, pediatric emergency medicine.

National Injury Prevention Day started in 2020. Webb says it is a day to empower and educate families to make a difference in injury prevention.  Injuries can affect children of all ages. According to the Injury Free Coalition for Kids, every day, 20 children die from preventable injuries. One of those preventable injuries includes firearm-related deaths, the third leading cause of injury-related deaths among U.S. children.

“As many times as you talk to your child about gun safety, it is still very, very important to store your firearm safely,” said Webb. Children are curious, often children will find these firearms that are not stored safely; and teenagers can be very impulsive and act without thinking, so it is very important to store those firearms at home, locked with either a gun lock or a gun safe, unloaded and away from ammunition.”

Children’s will join several organizations to light a pathway to safety on Friday, Nov. 18. Beginning at dusk, the hospital will be lit in green to help raise awareness about injury prevention.

Webb and the team of physicians in the emergency department offer these age-based tips to protect children from the most common causes of injury.

Infants – Safe Sleep

There are about 3,500 sleep-related deaths among U.S. babies each year, occurring from accidental suffocation, co-sleeping or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). 

Risk Factors:

  • Placing infants to sleep on their stomach
  • Sharing a bed with an adult
  • Sleeping on a soft surface or with loose bedding
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke

What You Can Do:

  • Follow the ABCs of safe sleep: Alone, on his or her Back and in a Crib
  • Put your baby to sleep alone. (Never let the baby sleep in bed with you. It is okay to share a bedroom, but not the same sleeping surface until your child is at least one year old.)
  • Put your baby to sleep on his or her back. (Babies should always be placed on their backs when going to sleep for both naps and bedtime.)
  • Put your baby to sleep in a crib or bassinet. (This should be completely empty except for one fitted sheet. Do not use soft bedding, bumpers, blankets, pillows or soft toys in the crib or bassinet.)

Toddlers – Poisoning

Children of all ages are at risk of poisoning in the home. Young children and toddlers often put what they find in their mouths as a way of exploring their world. Safely storing household medications and products is the best way to prevent your child from accidental poisoning.

Risk Factors:

  • Brightly colored or scented cleaning products
  • Pills that look like candy
  • Toys that have small parts can be a choking hazard

What You Can Do:

  • Place cleaning products and chemicals on a high shelf, out of reach of small children.
  • Store all medications in a locked place, such as a lock box or a locked cabinet.
  • Do not leave medications out on the counter where children can easily reach them.
  • Follow instructions from your doctor or pharmacist to dispose of expired or unused medications.

Preschool Children – Drowning

Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death in U.S. children ages 1 to 4 years. Drowning can be fast and silent. Children can drown in less than 1 inch of water, and it can happen in bathtubs and toilets, buckets of water, swimming pools and natural bodies of water.

What You Can Do:

  • Use childproof doorknob covers and toilet locks to keep unsupervised young children out of the bathroom.
  • Empty buckets, inflatable pools, and bathtubs immediately after using them.
  • Ensure that all children wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket while boating or around natural bodies of water.
  • Enroll children in swim lessons from an early age to learn water safety skills.
  • If you have a pool, install a fence that is at least 4 feet tall and surrounds the pool on all four sides. Use self-closing and self-latching gates to keep young children from entering the pool area unattended.

Older Children – Firearms

Firearm-related deaths are the third leading cause of injury-related death among U.S. children. Young children are curious and cannot truly understand how dangerous guns are (even if you have talked to them about gun safety). If your child comes across a loaded gun, he or she can be accidentally hurt or killed, or may hurt or kill others. Teens can be impulsive and may act without thinking.

What You Can Do:

  • Keep all guns locked, either with a gun lock or a gun safe.
  • Store guns unloaded and away from ammunition.
  • If anyone in the house is undergoing treatment for mental health disorders such as depression or suicidal thoughts, remove all firearms from the house for his/her safety.

Adolescents – Motor Vehicle Safety

Motor vehicle collisions are the number one killer of older children and teens. Learning to drive is an exciting time, but inexperience and distractions can put teens at risk. 

What You Can Do:

  • Properly restrain children in the correct car seat, booster seat or seat belt, depending on their age.
  • Discuss car seat safety with your pediatrician, and make sure you learn how to properly install your car seat in your vehicle.
  • Do not allow children under age 12 to sit in the front seat of the vehicle.
  • Teach teenagers to obey traffic lights and street signs, drive the speed limit and wear a seat belt.
  • Remind teenagers not to talk on the phone or text while driving.
  • Model good behavior: always wear your own seatbelt while in a vehicle, and check to be sure that your children are wearing theirs.
  • ATVs should only be used while wearing a helmet and following the safety instructions from the manufacturer. Never let a child under 16 ride an adult-sized ATV, and never allow more riders than the ATV is designed to carry.

All Ages – Fire Safety

More than 60 percent of all house fires occur in homes without working smoke detectors. It is important to install smoke detectors on each floor of your home. Test smoke detectors frequently.

What You Can Do:

  • Change the batteries of your smoke detectors and check that they work every 6 months.
  • Have an escape plan from the home in the event of a fire, and practice with your family.
  • Place fire extinguishers in the kitchen, basement and garage.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
  • Teach children what to do in the event of fire: stop, drop, and roll.
  • Make sure space heaters do not come in contact with clothing or other flammable materials. Do not keep space heaters in bedrooms.

All Ages – Motor Vehicle Safety

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 19 and under, and more than half of car seats are not used or installed correctly.

What You Can Do:

  • Properly restrain children in the correct car seat, booster seat or seat belt, depending on their age.
  • Discuss car seat safety with your pediatrician, and make sure you learn how to properly install your car seat in your vehicle.

Visit www.childrensal.org/emergency-department for more information.