Kids are active, and they’re going to get hurt sometimes. Scrapes and bruises will heal. But some accidents can cause serious problems like head injuries. You can help keep kids safe by focusing on protecting them from the dangers likely to cause the most harm.
Falls top that scary list. Falls are the leading cause of non-deadly injuries for children under 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 8,000 children are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for fall-related injuries each day. That adds up to about 2.8 million children every year.
Falls can cause head injuries like concussions, a mild form of traumatic brain injury. These dangerous injuries can be prevented.
Get Helmet Happy
Start by insisting that your kids wear the right helmet for certain activities. While there is no concussion-proof helmet, the right head gear can go a long way toward protecting children and teens from head injuries.
Helmets should fit properly and be:
- Well maintained
- Age appropriate
- Worn every time
- Secured the right way
- Approved for the activity
Learn more about the right type of head gear for sports such as skateboarding, skiing, horseback riding, and hockey and other team sports from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Make sure all types of sports equipment your child uses are right for the specific sport and well maintained.
Know the Signs
A concussion happens when the brain bounces inside the skull. The results of a concussion can be serious. Kids might not be able to explain their symptoms. And they may not have an obvious symptom like losing consciousness. So look out for these signs after a fall or other head injury:
- Light sensitivity
- Blurred vision
If you see these signs, seek medical help at once.
Safety in the Car
It’s important to protect kids from head and other injuries while riding in the car. Motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children. Many can be prevented with the correct use of a child safety seat, booster seat or seatbelt. Use the right type for your child’s age, height and weight. And make sure car seats are put in the correct way — many aren’t.
A CDC study found that in one year more than 618,000 children 12 years old and younger rode in vehicles without the use of a seat belt or safety seat at least some of the time. Of the children in that age group who died in car crashes in 2016, more than 1 in 3 were not buckled up. Make sure you always buckle up yourself to set a good example.
Home Safe Home
Many kids, especially the younger ones, get hurt at home. They spend a lot of time there, so it’s important to focus your efforts on making home sweet home also home safe home. Things that protect your kids also make your home safer for you and guests as well.
Some ways to fall-proof your house:
- Keep handrails on stairways in good shape.
- Keep clutter off the steps.
- Put in safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
- Make sure window guards are in place to prevent kids from falling out of windows.
- Use special straps or brackets to secure top-heavy televisions, bookcases or other pieces of furniture that kids might try to climb.
Play It Safe
Injuries on the playground are also common. Make sure that surfaces under playground equipment are well-maintained. Surfaces should be covered with material that is soft and the right depth for the type of activity. Wood chips and sand are acceptable; dirt and grass are not considered safe.In any setting, supervision is key. And be a role model for good choices, from wearing a helmet to always buckling up in the car.
Sources: Fall Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016; Which Helmet for Which Activity, Consumer Product Safety Commission; Kids and Concussions, MedlinePlus, National Institutes of Health, 2017; Water Safety Tips, Safekids.org; Summer Safety Tips, American Academy of Pediatrics, 2017; How to Prepare for Emergencies, American Red Cross