Although we take great pride in caring for sick and injured children, we would like to help parents prevent accidents. The information found here should help you take steps to ensure your child’s health.
Drowning is one of the leading causes of death among youngsters in the United States. The most important rule to remember concerning water safety is to always watch your children carefully around water. Children need constant supervision when around water, which includes the bathtub, ponds, swimming pools, spas, beaches, or lakes. Young children can drown in less than two inches of water and most drownings occur when children are out of sight for less than five minutes.
- Obtain swimming instruction for both you and your child
- Have the entire family learn CPR
- Invest in proper-fitting, government approved flotation devices, such as swim vests and use them
- Teach teenagers that water sports can be dangerous and precautions are not just for babies
SUN AND YOUR CHILD’S SKIN
Exposure to the damaging rays of the sun is one known risk factor for developing melanoma, or skin cancer. The majority of children obtain between 50%-80% of their lifetime sun exposure before age 20. Therefore, the critical time to prevent sun damage is the first 20 years. As parents, we must teach our children to enjoy fun in the sun safely. With the right precautions, you can reduce your child’s chance of developing skin cancer. Unprotected sun exposure is even more dangerous for children with moles on their skin (or who have parents with moles), very fair skin and hair, or a family history of skin cancer, including melanoma.
- Avoid the strongest rays of the day (10am – 3pm)
- Cover up, wear a t-shirt and hat
- Use sunscreen consistently (SPF 15+ and reapply often)
- Purchase protective sunglasses for kids
Knowing the rules of bicycle safety can help prevent your child from suffering a serious injury. Here are some facts about bicycle injuries:
- Children ages 5 to 14 have a higher rate of bicycle injuries than older riders.
- Bicycle injuries in younger children most often result from errors they have made.
- Injuries to the face and head are the most severe injuries for bicyclists.
- Fatal injuries are most often caused when a cyclist crosses an intersection without looking for cars, or by drivers who have been using alcohol.
Children are at risk for injury no matter where they are riding. One study found the same severity of injuries among children bicycling in their own neighborhood as older children using the bicycle as a means of transportation.
To reduce the chance of injury, your child should follow the following rules:
General safety rules:
- Always wear a helmet.
- Always wear protective shoes (no bare feet or sandals).
- Avoid riding at dusk or at night. If a child must ride a night, proper bicycle lights and reflective clothing are important.
- Never carry another passenger on the bicycle.
Street safety rules:
- Ride in a single file and only in the direction of traffic.
- Ride in a straight line while near the curb.
- Always obey stoplights and stop signs.
- Never assume that the driver of a car sees you at an intersection.
- Use good balance and steering, proper hand signals, and brakes safely.
- Get off the bicycle safely.
- Look behind you when you turn across a traffic lane.
Children often do not have the skills needed to ride on the street until age 10. Even after this age, you should periodically check your child’s skills. Check to see if your child pays attention to potential obstacles or dangers such as rocks, tree limbs, and cars exiting driveways or alleys.
Wear a Bicycle Helmet
Helmets are very effective in reducing the risk of serious head injury or death as a result of bicycle accidents. Get a bicycle helmet before your child takes his first bicycle ride. Even a child riding in a bicycle carrier should wear a helmet. A child should always wear a helmet every time she gets onto a bicycle.
You can encourage your child to wear a helmet. Some
- Always wear a helmet yourself when you are riding a bicycle and make an effort to ride with your child.
- Allow your child to pick out his or her own helmet.
- Buy some stickers to make the helmet more appealing to your child.
- Praise your child for wearing the helmet and address her concern when the helmet does not fit properly.
- Always insist that your child put on a helmet before he or she gets onto a bicycle. If your child breaks this rule, remove bicycle privileges for a period of time.
Choose a Proper Bicycle Size and Type
Having the right size of bicycle is important for the safety of your child. Children riding bicycles that are too big for them are injured more often then children with the proper size of bike. Never buy or allow the use of a bicycle that the child will “grow into.”
A child should be able to touch both feet on the ground comfortably when standing over the bicycle. The top bar of the bicycle should be at least 1 inch below the crotch while the child is standing. Your child should be able to reach the handlebars comfortably while sitting on the bicycle seat in an upright posture.
Children just learning to ride on streets should use a bike with foot brakes because they require less coordination for safe use. Children who can safely ride on roadways can use bicycles that require more coordination (such as those with hand brakes and manual gear shifts).
Maintain Your Bicycle:
A child or parent should regularly check the bicycle’s brakes and tire pressure. If the bicycle has rapid release hubs, check the hubs before each ride. Bicycles with damaged parts such as wheels, spokes, or handlebars should be repaired before they are used again.
For More Information:
For more information on bicycle safety, contact your local bicycle shop or police station. Information on bicycle safety is also available from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Childproofing the house:
Before your child is crawling, walking and becoming a lot more mobile, it would be a good time to child proof your house. Get down on all fours and search the house for potential hazards to your child. Remember that in addition to childproofing your own home, make sure that your child is safe at daycare or when visiting friends and family. Do grandparents have medicines out of reach? Does your neighbor have a gun in the house?
Here are some tips for childproofing your house:
- Use covers on electrical outlets and latches on cabinets.
- Set the temperature of your hot water heater to 120 degrees F to prevent scalding.
- Prevent poisoning by keeping household cleaners, chemicals and medicines completely out of reach and always store them in their original container and know your local Poison Control Center number (1-800-222-1222). Also, buy and use products with child resistant caps.
- Make sure that used or hand-me-down equipment, such as car seats, strollers, toys and cribs, etc., haven’t been recalled for safety reasons. Call the manufacturer or the Consumer Product Safety Commission for an up-to-date list of recalled products (800-638-2772 or www.cpsc.gov
- Use stair gates and window guards.
- Maintain smoke free environments for your children.
- Remove mobiles from the crib and playpen once your child can stand.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers in the house and use flame retardant sleepwear.
- Install fire extinguishers and consider purchasing flame resistant or flame retardant furniture in your home.
- Remove furniture with sharp edges or use soft guards.
- Use nonskid backing on rugs and make sure carpets are securely tacked down.
- Remove breakables from low tables and shelves.
- Remove small toys and other choking hazards from around your child.
- Tie cords of blinds, curtains and appliances up out of reach or use a blind cord wind-up device. Remove loops from blinds.
- Do not use a mobile baby walker. Stationary walkers are much safer.
- Do not carry hot liquids or food near your child and do not allow your child near stoves, heaters or other hot appliances (especially curling irons). When cooking, use the back burners and turn pot handles inward.
- To prevent drowning, empty all water from bathtubs and pails, keep the door to the bathroom closed and never leave your child alone near any container of water.
- In the bathroom, use a lid lock on the toilet, a non-slip mat on the tub floor and consider a cushion for the tub faucet.
- Child proof the swimming pool by enclosing it in a fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate and never leave your child alone in a swimming area, even if he is a good swimmer.
- If you must have a gun in the house, keep it and the bullets in a separate locked place.
- Be cautious of certain dog breeds (Rottweilers, pit bulls, German shepherds) that account for over fifty percent of fatal dog bites and closely supervise children when in the presence of animals.
- If using bunk beds remember that kids under age 6 years of age should not be allowed to sleep in the upper bunk.
- Make sure your house is free of environmental health hazards such as radon, carbon monoxide, asbestos, mercury and mold.
- If considering buying a trampoline, keep in mind that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that ‘parents should never purchase a home trampoline or allow children to use home trampolines’ and that even when supervised, children under age 6 years should not be allowed to use a trampoline.
- Place childproof covers on doors that your child could use to leave the house.
- Keep a list of emergency numbers near the phone and keep a phone handy at all times in case of an emergency.
- Lock rooms (with a childproof lock or door knob cover) that are not childproof and the exterior doors of your house so that your child can’t get out the front door or into the garage, attic, or backyard without help.
- Consider using a wall anchor or safety strap for the stove and large pieces of furniture that can tip over.
- Do not place your TV on a cart that could easily tip over onto your child.
- Consider a lock for the dish washer (so he can’t reach unsafe items, like steak knives, that you might be washing) and refrigerator.
- Secure (keep out of reach of your child) your car keys and lock your car so that your children can’t get locked in the car or the trunk.
- Consider getting a trunk release mechanism so that your child can’t get trapped in the trunk.
- Remove the rubber knob or tip from door stops, as younger children can choke on them, or just use a one piece door stop.
- To prevent finger injuries, use a finger pinch guard on doors.
- Secure the key for a gas fireplace or consider using a valve cover.
- Use a guard on banisters and railings, especially if your younger child can fit through the rails.
- Remove the hood and neck drawstrings from your child’s jackets and other clothing, as they can get caught in school bus doors, handrails and playground equipment, etc. Also warn your child about using dangling key rings and hanging things from their backpacks, as they too can get caught and injure your child.