You love your children, but in the midst of managing their busy schedules and your own, how often do you get the chance to take a good look at the child safety issues your kids face on a daily basis?
I put together this top ten list for you, the parent whose mind is full of dates, times and lists.
1. Child Car Injuries
Your child’s safety seat won’t do all the work.
Drivers are dealing with more distractions both inside and outside of their automobiles than ever before. Between in-car DVD players, traffic jams, cell phones, texting and your kids kicking the back of your seat it’s easy to take your eyes off the road without even noticing until it’s too late.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 to 14. In 2008, 1,347 children under the age of 14 were killed in traffic accidents.
To prevent child injury or death while driving here are some basic, but often overlooked tips:
- Always keep your children restrained by a car seat or seat belt. Recently two Pennsylvania children were killed after being ejected from their mother’s rolling minivan. Their mother had taken them out of the car seats for the last few hours of a long car ride after one of the children had vomited in the back seat.”We had to throw out the car seats – the booster seats – because they were just covered. They were saturated with vomit and it’s hot and it’s humid and I wasn’t going to let them sit in that,” the mother told a local TV station. The story is so incredibly tragic and heartbreaking but perhaps, it can serve as a stark reminder to all of us that even a few minutes without the proper car seat usage can lead to your child’s injury or death.
- All car seats sold stateside must pass the same government crash safety test, but some seats have more safety features than others. Car-safety.org, a great resource for driving parents, gives a comprehensive rundown of all the extra safety features available on child car seats and what parents should be looking for in a safety seat. Parents.com lists their thirteen favorite child safety seats here.
- Stay up to date on child car safety seat recalls. Carseat.org keeps a regularly updated list of current recalls. Check the list now to see if your safety seat is on it.
- Don’t text while driving. Ever. State legislatures have caught on to the estimated 1.6 million car accidents per year caused by cell phone usage and now 28 states have banned text messaging while driving. State laws are great, but with 72% of adults texting, those laws are going to be hard to enforce. Drive defensively and make your car a no phone zone.
2. Child Sleep Injuries
Sleep better knowing you’re keeping your child safe at night.
Depending on your child’s age, you might not be getting an adequate amount of sleep. If you are still raising an infant or toddler, chances are sleep is a precious commodity. But when you do get the chance to catch some shut-eye, is your child sleeping safely?
Your child’s sleep setting might not be as safe as you think, so make sure you’ve considered what risks your young one’s crib or bed could pose.
Be on the look out for important recalls in the child sleep industry like the Nap Nanny recall. Don’t leave toys and other objects in your child’s bed or crib when you’re not present. This greatly reduces the risk of choking and smothering.
Traditional crib bumpers have proven to be dangerous as well so research your options. The Safest Line recently partnered with MISSION (Mothers Investigating Safe Sleep Options for Newborns) in the promotion of their child injury prevention petition against crib bumpers.
3. Household Chemical Child Injuries
Preventing child injuries from household chemicals is easier than you think.
Kids love bright, unusual colors and companies that specialize in manufacturing youth beverages know that. Go to the grocery store and you’ll see juices and sports drinks in every color under the rainbow. It’s easy to see how a child who loves his blue-raspberry juice could mistakenly see a bottle of blue window cleaner as a beverage.
According to Yahoo Health and Wellness, more than 7 million accidental poisonings occur each year and 75% of those involve children under age 6. Teach your children the difference between chemical and consumable and keep chemicals out of reach and securely stored.
Also, never store chemicals near food. That’s a safety tip for both parent and child. For more information and advice, check out my previous post on child safety and cleaning products.
4. Child Pool Injuries
Child pool accidents are a leading cause of child injury and death.
For children, summertime all about fun and freedom. There’s no law that children should have to spend more time outdoors without video games, but there should be. One of the most popular summer activities is swimming in the pool.
Going to the pool is a favorite summertime activity for kids. But according to USA Today, near-drownings rank in the top injuries that lead to children being hospitalized over the summer. What’s even worse is 65% of child deaths due to drowning occur in familiar surroundings. And a majority of these drownings occured under adult supervision.
To educate and empower poolside parents, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has partnered with Safe Kids USA, and the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) to introduce a new kids safety education program.
When your kids are in the water, be in the water with them and provide them with proper flotation devices. Read my post on preventing child pool injuries and drownings for more.
5. Child Bicycle Injuries
Preventing child bike injuries comes down to basic safety practices.
Remember how much fun it was to ride your bike around the neighborhood as a kid? Your children are having that same fun now, but you probably notice a difference. I see more kids wearing bicycle helmets every year and it makes me think, “Gee, why didn’t our parents think of that?”
As an increasing number of people take off on two wheels, bicycle safety is becoming more important and we should teach our children that bicycle safety goes beyond wearing a helmet.
In the suburbs, have your children ride on the sidewalk and if they do any night riding, put adequate reflectors and lights on their bikes. Dressing them in bright, reflective clothing would also be wise.
The best thing to do is ride with your kids when you can until they have all of the best bicycle safety practices down pat.
6. Child School Bus Injuries
Prevent child injury on the way to school with these child safety tips.
School bus injuries and accidents have made big news this summer with the fatal crash in Missouri and another that killed an Ohio youth.
Statistically, it is safer to be in a large vehicle while on the road, but walk into just about any big, yellow school bus today and you’ll notice one thing that has not changed since we were children: There are no seat belts.
In light of this lack of safety gear, the best thing parents can do is help their children understand the importance of paying attention and following school rules while riding the bus.
Also, school bus safety starts before your child even gets on that big, yellow behemoth. While waiting at the bus stop, kids need to stay on the curb, even when the bus is stopped. A bus driver has a limited field of vision and may not be able to see a child standing in front of or behind the bus.
After a while, children usually don’t want their parents waiting with them at the bus stop, but observe them from a distance every so often to see if they are putting their safety knowledge into practice.
If you’re interested in finding out more about school bus safety and statistics, check out the National Coalition for School Bus Safety.
7. Child School Injuries
Educate yourself on how to keep your children safe at school.
By now, your kids are probably back in school, learning and, hopefully, having fun.
The teaching profession is one that I highly respect. Teachers are filling your children’s minds with knowledge and skills while looking out for their physical and psychological well-being. A teacher is a tutor and caretaker wrapped into one amazing person.
The thing is, your children’s teacher has to look after other parents’ young ones, too. But because a teacher can’t be one-on-one with each student all the time, parents need to take initiative in preparing their children for the potentially harmful pitfalls they could face.
This preparation used to be much simpler: don’t talk to strangers on your way to and from school, don’t jump off the playground equipment and when dealing with a bully, don’t fight and find an adult to resolve the situation. Read my back to school safety tips for more.
But the age of the Internet has changed things for children.
If your child’s school is wired for the Internet, find out what the district’s policies are regarding student computer use. It’s popular knowledge that there are people on the Web who want to do your children harm, so make sure the school is doing everything in its power to keep students from accessing dangerous content.
8. Child Gun Injuries
Gun safety is absolutely imperative if you are a gun owner with children.
As a citizen of the United States of America, it’s your Second Amendment Right to own a firearm. As a parent, it’s your job to teach children about gun safety, especially if you are a gun owner.
Mom Logic reports more than 1.7 million American children live in homes with guns and of those children, around 500 die each year. Children have a great curiosity about guns due to the weapon’s place in pop culture. How many prime-time television shows featuring characters who use guns do you watch? How often do your children watch those with you?
The line between play and reality is often blurry for kids, so when they see their hero firing a gun, they don’t understand the real consequences and dangers involved.
Have a discussion with your children about the difference between toy guns and real guns. If they spend time at friends’ houses, let your kids know they should leave immediately if a gun makes an appearance in the hands of another child.
Parents tend to store their guns in places they think are out of reach of children. Unless something is under lock and key, no matter where you hide something, your children can and will find it. Purchase a gun safe for storage and never let your kids have the combination. It’s the only 100% way to protect your children from guns.
Yes, these safes can be expensive, but how valuable is the life of your child? For more information, take a look at the NRA’s Safety page for parents.
9. Child Eating Injuries
Learn child CPR and teach safe eating habits to prevent choking.
When your child graduates from baby food to solids, it’s time to consider safe eating habits. According to Healthline, around 17,000 children are treated for choking episodes each year and more than 80% of these incidents occur in children aged 4 years and younger.
Teach your child to eat slowly in small bites and to carefully chew food before swallowing. If you’re outside at a barbeque or picnic, watch out that your children aren’t playing and eating at the same time. A child running with food in his mouth is at greater risk to choke than one that’s sitting.
If your child has a habit of putting foreign objects, like coins or Legos, into his mouth, find a way to stop that behavior as soon as possible. Here’s the big step I think every parent should take: get certified in CPR and first aid. You never know when you’ll need to use those skills on your child or someone else you love. At the very least, take a minute to watch this video on child CPR.
10. Child Sports Injuries
Do what you can to prevent child sports injury.
Your kids need to run and play. I don’t know that it’s a scientific fact, but it seems to be one of the laws of childhood. Friendly competition teaches sportsmanship and other life lessons. It also demonstrates the importance of safety to your kids, too.In turn, you as a parent need not live in worry or fear that a child sports injury is right around the corner of the next whizzing ball.
According to Children’s Hospital Boston, approximately 3 million children get hurt annually playing sports or participating in recreational activities. To prevent child sports injuries adequate protection should be worn when playing any sport that poses a risk of physical contact with another person or another object.
For those children who are visually challenged, regular glasses are not safe on the field. The breakable parts could damage a child’s eye very easily. There are plenty of options when it comes to finding a solid pair of prescription safety glasses.
If your children are biking, skateboarding, rollerblading or any other type of extreme sport, proper padding is a must. The majority of head injuries sustained in sports or recreational activities occur during bicycling, skateboarding, or skating incidents.
Elbow and knee pads in addition to helmets and wrist guards will keep your children zooming along safely. Read more of my child sports injury prevention tips here.
Ken Levinson is a Chicago-based child injury attorney and child safety advocate. He believes any injured child is one too many. If your child has been injured or worse please contact Ken by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.