WASHINGTON — Any new parent quickly learns that a toddler is into everything. It only takes a quick second for that child to get out of your sight and around something potentially dangerous. The nation’s emergency physicians treat children every day who are injured by something in their own home or someone else’s home. Now is the time to childproof it.
“So many childhood injuries that emergency physicians see daily are easily avoidable,” said Dr. Michael Gerardi, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “You can’t keep your kid in a protective bubble, but you can work to keep them safe. A great start would be to look around your house and identify potential childhood hazards and take steps to protect your children from them.”
Unintentional injuries, like burns, drowning, falls, poisoning and road traffic are the leading cause of death among children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 12,000 children die each year and more than 9.2 million are treated in ERs for injuries.
• Suffocation was the leading cause of injury death for children under age 1, according to the CDC.
• Drowning was the leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 4.
• More than 135,000 children ages 19 and under were seen in ERs for fire and burn related injuries in 2012.
What you can do in your home right now to protect young children:
• Use safety latches for drawers and cabinets in kitchens, bathrooms and other rooms that may contain dangerous products, like cleaning supplies, knives and sharp objects and medicines.
• Use safety gates to help prevent falls down stairs and to help prevent children from going in areas that may have potential dangers. Make sure these gates meet current safety standards. (Gates that only press against walls, called pressure-mounted gates, are not secure enough.)
• Place protective childproof covers on all electrical outlets that are in reach of children.
• Make sure all electrical cords are out of a child’s reach and properly secure.
• Fasten all heavy bookshelves, televisions, cabinets or anything that could pose a potential tipping hazard to a secure wall, making sure it cannot fall on a child.
• Use toilet seat lid-locking devices on all toilet seats to decrease drowning hazards.
• Use cordless window coverings to help prevent strangulation.
• Use corner or edge bumpers on anything with sharp edges, like furniture and fireplaces.
• Create a protective barrier around pools and spas that include at least a 4-foot tall fence with self-closing and self-latching gates. It’s also a good idea to look into getting pool alarms as an additional layer of protection.
“The best thing you can do for your young child is to make sure a responsible person is with them at all times,” said Dr. Gerardi. “A responsible caregiver is the number one safety feature to protect every child.”
ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.
Emergency Care for You brings us this information today.