February 9, 2004
Methodist Rehabilitation Center offers tips to prevent No. 1 killer of young children
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Physicians and staff at Methodist Rehabilitation Center are urging parents and caregivers to protect their children from unintentional injuries, the number one killer of children under age 14.
“Don’t wait until you are on the way to the emergency room to say, ‘If we’d only...’,” said Lauren Fairburn, coordinator of Think First, Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s statewide injury prevention program. “We want parents and caregivers to be proactive and plan ahead for their children’s safety.”
Fairburn encourages children to wear helmets and knee and elbow pads when riding bicycles, scooters, roller blades and skateboards. A helmet is a necessity, not an accessory, she said.
“Wearing bike helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent,” said Dr. Rahul Vohra, medical director at Methodist Rehab. “The key is to make sure the helmet is the right size and fits snug to the head.”
Fairburn also urges parents to be vigilant when their children are visiting playgrounds.
The National Safety Council estimates that more than 200,000 children visit hospital emergency rooms because of playground injuries and about 15 die each year. The most common types of injuries are fractures, dislocations and concussions caused by falls and collisions.
“Because many playgrounds are unsafe, parents and school educators need to be more involved in playground supervision,” said Dr. Vohra. “Always check the area for hazards and keep children in close proximity.”
Trampolines are another source of danger for children, so much so that the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against their use.
“Trampoline injury can be very severe, even fatal,” Fairburn said. “As more people get on the trampoline, the risk of injury dramatically increases.”
Other tips to keep your child safe:
- Never leave a child unsupervised.
- Set hot water thermostats to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent burns.
- Keep all cleaners, pesticides and medications in a “child-proofed” cabinet that locks. Even if the cabinet is out of a child’s reach, keep it locked. Many children will use chairs or other objects to reach the cabinet.
- Always check the water for a minimum depth of 10 feet before diving or jumping in and to be aware of “no diving” or “no swimming” signs. Each year, about 1,000 diving-related injuries occur. They account for 10 percent of all spinal cord injuries and 60 percent of all recreational injuries.
- Never leave a child unattended in or around water. Children can drown in as little as one inch of water in a matter of seconds. If you own a pool or spa, consider installing a fence and always make sure children who cannot swim wear life jackets
- Learn CPR. You never know when you will need it. It can help save the life of a loved one.