Friday, July 17, 2015

Help prevent leading cause of child death: unintentional injury

Every day 2,000 children die from preventable injuries, making unintentional injuries the leading cause of death for children in the United States. More of these injuries occur during the summer than any other season.

"Kids are outside more, out of school and less supervised," said Greg Ozark, associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "This leads to an increased risk of injuries, from drowning to head injuries to skin infections from bug bites and poison ivy.

Serious injuries and death can happen in an instant; most drownings occur when a parent hasn't been watching a child for only five minutes.

Ozark said the best method for injury prevention is adult supervision including not only watching the kids, but setting safety rules and leading by example. "Your children are watching you," Ozark said. "They are more likely to do what they see you doing than to do what they hear you saying."

Water safety:
1. An adult should be supervising children spending time around any source of water including pools and lakes; infants and toddlers should be supervised while they are in the bathtub.
2. Children 5 and older should take swim lessons.
3. Young children should always be in arm's reach of an adult.
4. Home pools have to have a four-foot fence surrounding them including a self-locking gate.
5. People of all ages should wear lifejackets while boating, and children should wear lifejackets even on docks and piers.

Wheeled activities like bike riding:
1. Each child needs to wear a helmet approved by the American National Standards Institute. The helmet should fit snugly, sit over the forehead and cover the back of the head. Helmets should be replaced if they get dented or cracked.
2. Children should wear knee and elbow pads and wrist guards while skateboarding.
3. Tell children to be particularly careful around driveways, and children younger than 10 should not be permitted to ride in the street.
4. Always be aware of wear your children are going and do not let them go too far from home.

1. Supervise your children while they play on the playground.
2. Playground surfaces should be filled with wood chips or sand, not grass or cement.
3. Report broken equipment immediately, and don't let your children play on it.
4. Home swing sets can pose a strangulation hazard, so check them carefully before children use them.
5. Playground equipment should not be higher than six feet off the ground.

"Be wary, supervise and think about what are potential consequences that could occur by your child's activity," Ozark said. "Whether they are toddlers or teens, there is no age that doesn't need to be supervised."

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