Leading Causes of Pediatric Injury and How to Prevent Them
By: Adriana Baez, MD/JD candidate with Julie Belkowitz, MD, MPH, Oneith Cadiz, MD, Director of Injury Free Coalition for Kids Miami, and Lyse Deus, MEd
Each year on November 18, we come together to observe National Injury Prevention Day. The aim is simple yet important: to raise awareness about potential dangers in our everyday surroundings, and to ensure the safety of the children in our community.
Childhood should be a time of exploration, growth, and joy. Yet every year, millions of children worldwide face preventable injuries that can have lifelong consequences or, in the worst cases, be fatal. Understanding the common causes of these injuries is the first step toward prevention.
Here are some of the most common causes of unintentional injuries to children and how to prevent them:
- Motor Vehicle Crashes: Make sure your child is always secured in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt that is right for their age and size. Make sure your teen gets as much driving practice with you in the car at different times of day, in different kinds of weather, and in heavy and light traffic before allowing them to drive alone.
- Install age-appropriate safety equipment in the home (e.g. gates for stairs and furniture safety straps). Make sure kids are wearing helmets and other necessary safety equipment when playing. Always supervise children during play.
- Burns and Scalds: Set your water heater to 120°F or lower. Keep hot foods, drinks, and appliances out of reach. Teach kids about the dangers of touching hot surfaces or playing with matches and lighters. Always supervise children while cooking.
- Choking and Suffocation: Keep small objects, including toys with detachable parts, out of reach of children below the age of 3. Learn the Heimlich maneuver and CPR. Use appropriate crib bedding and avoid using blankets, soft toys, pillows, or bumpers in an infant’s crib.
- Drowning: Never leave children unsupervised near water. Install fences around pools with self-latching gates. Enroll kids in swimming lessons from an early age. Always have them wear life jackets in and around natural bodies of water.
- Poisoning: Store all medications, cleaning products, and chemicals out of reach and in locked cabinets. Educate children about the dangers of ingesting unknown substances. Keep the number of the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) easily accessible.
- Firearms: Always store firearms in a locked cabinet, gun vault, or storage case. Firearms should be stored unloaded with the ammunition securely stored separately. Educate your children on the dangers of firearms and safety rules: Stop! Don’t touch. Run away. Tell an adult.
The key to safeguarding our children lies not just in understanding the risks, but also in implementing preventive measures and creating environments that allow them to thrive without fear.
Remember, every injury prevented is a childhood preserved. This National Injury Prevention Day let us reaffirm our commitment to the safety and well-being of our children.