To help raise safety awareness, this article will discuss safety topics and concerns as they apply to children and adolescents. Awareness efforts often focus on ways to reduce unintentional injury. These efforts are important for children as well.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in children and adolescents aged 0-19. While this is a staggering and unsettling statistic, even more non-fatal injuries occur that require doctor’s visits, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations. The CDC reported that deaths from unintentional injury have decreased in recent years; however, there are still several thousand child deaths each year from unintentional injury, and the United States has one of the higher rates of child death from unintentional injury among the high-income countries. For these reasons, it is good to be aware of the common causes of child unintentional injury and what can be done to prevent these injuries. According to the CDC, some of the most common unintentional injuries in children include motor vehicle accidents, suffocation, drowning, poisoning, fires, and falls.

Here are some common tips and recommendations from the CDC for preventing harm from these common unintentional injuries:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
    • Use safety-enhancing devices consistently and appropriately. For example, always wear seat belts and wear them in the correct fashion, use booster seats and car seats and make sure they are appropriate for the child’s age and weight, set safety standards for teenagers learning how to drive, etc.
  • Suffocation
    • This unfortunate accident occurs most often with infants. While recommendations for infant sleeping have changed over the years, the CDC is currently recommending that babies sleep on their backs on a firm surface. Babies should sleep in a quality crib assembled correctly that meets current safety standards. Babies should not sleep with loose bedding or soft toys in the crib with them.
  • Drowning
    • One prevention method recommended by the CDC is that children and parents of children who will be in or near water learn to swim. Additionally, it is recommended that pools have a fence that latches closed to prevent children from getting near water unsupervised. And of course, children should be closely supervised when in or around water.
  • Poisoning
    • Keep medications in a place in which they cannot be accessed by children or adolescents without parental supervision. Similarly, cleaning supplies and other toxic products should be stored in their original containers, so that children do not mistake them for something else, and these products should be stored in places where children cannot get to them.
  • Fire
    • There are several actions that can be taken to reduce the amount of harm inflicted should a fire occur in the home. First, smoke alarms should be installed on every level of a home and near where people will be sleeping, and smoke alarms should be tested monthly. Second, a plan should be created for the family to escape the house in case of a fire, and this plan should be practiced periodically. If possible, installing a home fire sprinkler system can enhance safety in case of a fire.
  • Falls
    • The CDC recommends installing guard rails on beds high off the ground, such as bunk beds or loft beds. Additionally, children should wear appropriate protective gear during sports and recreational activities, such as wearing a helmet while riding a bike, etc. Parents are also encouraged to use playgrounds that have soft landing surfaces and to include these materials in any home playgrounds. Soft landing surfaces include materials such as sand or wood chips as opposed to dirt or grass.

While these are some preventive actions that can be taken to help prevent some of the more common unintentional injuries to children, there is more that can be done. Click the CDC link to learn more about the statistics for child unintentional injury, what else can be done to prevent the injuries discussed here, and more tips for other common child injuries.

Found this article helpful? Check out Dr. Tiffany Wierzbicki’s article about children’s mental health.

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Found this artilce helpful? Check out more artilce by Dr. Tiffany Wierzbicki