Having a child comes with a lot of responsibility. I mean, that’s kind of stating the obvious as far as what defines the term parenthood - but you don’t realize the extent of it until you’re in the thick of it. Everyday tasks and items you and I may have taken for granted when we were childless, like taking a swim in the pool, lighting candles and leaving out laundry detergent where it’s easily accessible, all suddenly become severe and dangerous hazards for kids. And it’s simply because children just don’t know better. Sure, as our children age and develop a better understanding of the dangers that are present in the world, they become familiar with what is right and wrong, but not without our guidance.
Everything that we’re used to experiencing is something that a child is experiencing for the first time. They don’t understand that laundry detergent is dangerous because they don’t know what laundry detergent is; they look at it and think that’s it’s a blue drink, something that would ordinarily appear in their sippy cup around snack time. It’s our responsibility as parents to be cognizant of every little thing that’s around us and consequently - our children. I remember my mother telling my brother and I growing up, “Now if only you would have listened to me…” when either of us did something that we shouldn’t. When it comes to the severity of the hazards around us, parents don’t always get that “luxury” of using the opportunity as a “teaching tool.”
Common Examples of Child Injuries
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development released a study of the most common hazards children face and unfortunately, how they are commonly injured. The list is comprised of the following:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Slips and falls
Further statistics from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development on these events are honestly quite frightening, even if you aren’t a parent.
- Each day, three children die from drowning
- Two children sustain burns each day
- Approximately 8,000 minors visit the emergency rooms each day as a result of a slip and fall injury
- Poisoning accounts for at least two child deaths each day
- Infants are most likely to suffocate when they're asleep
- Alarmingly, approximately 150 children visit an emergency room for catastrophic injuries they accrued from a motor vehicle accident nearly every hour
How Parents Can Help Prevent Child Injuries
Accidents happen. That’s why they call them accidents. Unfortunately, situations occur that we, even as cautious parents, can never be prepared for. But, there are things we can do to try to prevent child injury accidents as best we can.
As a parent, you should always ensure that your child is wearing a seatbelt, and furthermore that they’re wearing this correctly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the following information outlines proper seat belt safety:
- “The lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach,
- The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest, and not cross the neck or face,
- Never let a child put the shoulder belt under an arm or behind the back because it could cause severe injuries in a crash
- Check your child’s belt fit in every vehicle.”
The NHTSA also stated that "2,456" additional lives could have been saved in 2016 had a seat belt been worn.
We set the example for our kids. That’s why if I’m watching a movie on the couch and I cross my ankles, my five-year-old follows suit and also crosses her ankles. Our kids look up to us for so many reasons and in so many different ways that it can be hard to remember that our careless or potentially reckless actions may trigger the idea in them that they can also follow suit.
If we aren’t wearing a seatbelt, then how can we be surprised when our children don’t see the importance in it?
Some surefire ways to help reduce the likelihood of your child being injured involves taking the following precautions:
- Always make sure they are wearing a seat belt every time they’re in a car
- If you have a pool, store cleaning chemicals away safely and put up a fence around the pool to ensure they don't accidentally fall in.
- Keep all pills, medication, chemicals, batteries, detergents and anything else that a child may mistake as a toy or accidentally get into/digest, locked and kept secure in a cabinet that they can’t access. According to the National Capital Poison Center, there were “2,159,032 human poison exposures” that occurred in 2016, including both children and adults varying in ages.
- Be sure to keep any hot objects out of reach from children and establish “no” zones, which the Mayo Clinic state can be useful in reducing the opportunities your child may have to get burned.
- The Department of Health in NY State says that young children should avoid sleeping with their parents as to avoid being rolled over on, as well as making sure your child’s crib is empty.
- Don’t allow your children to play in any zone that may be dangerous, such as at the top of a staircase, balcony, or patio, according to SafeKids.org
Having your child avoid slips and falls is probably one of the hardest things to do as a parent. They can easily get hurt during recess at school, gym class, at the playground or even when they’re running around the house. I can’t prevent all their accidents, but my wife and I can do whatever we can to ensure that our kids are aware of the implications that may arise from their actions. When my eldest daughter is running around the house and accidentally falls and gets a rug burn on her leg, it’s a lesson for her to know that if she acts that way moving forward, there’s a risk of her getting hurt again. Sometimes, as parents, these are our best resources for teaching.
For everything else though, we have to remain vigilant and stay on top of all we do. This requires us putting things back where they belong as well as setting good examples for them in all we do. Sure, we’re not perfect, but we do as nearly a perfect job as we can when it comes to keeping our kids safe.