Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Is Your Home Safe for Your Child?

The Top Five Ways to Protect Your Child at Home

By Celeste Caballero, MD, San Angelo
TMA Hard Hats for Little Heads Physician Advisory Panel

Did you know accidents at home and in the car are the most common cause of infant/child injury or death? In my medical practice as a pediatric doctor, I talk with parents every day about safety in the home during well-child exams. I do this because safety is a big deal, and accident prevention is key. April is Child Safety Month in Texas, and these are the top five tips I give parents to make their home and car safer:

Dr. Caballero fits helmets on children during a TMA Hard Hats for Little Heads helmet giveaway event.
  1. Protect from falls! Falls are the leading cause of injury to children between the ages of 0 to 19 nationwide, sending some 8,000 children to the emergency department (ED) daily. Always make sure your child wears a well-fitted helmet when on a bike, scooter, skateboard, or skates. And check that surfaces under playground equipment are soft — sand or wood chips — and not hard like grass or dirt. Always supervise your child around stairs and playground equipment.

  2. Buckle up! Every hour, nearly 150 U.S. children are seen in the ED for injuries suffered in a car accident. Make sure you are using the correct car seat, booster seat, or seat belt for your child. Follow these guidelines to find out if you’re using the right one based on your child’s weight, height, and age.

  3. Lock it up! Two children die and more than 300 children are treated every day in the ED for poisoning by household cleaners and medicines found in many homes. Children are curious, and will eat or drink almost anything. Keep medicines, household cleaners, and detergent pods in their original packaging and put them in a place a child can’t see or reach. Post this Nationwide Poison Control phone number on your refrigerator: (800) 222-1222.

  4. Watch the water! Drowning is the leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 4 years old. A child can drown quickly and quietly. Also, floaties don’t prevent all drownings. Adults should take turns watching children every minute they are in a bathtub, pool, or other body of water — and parents should avoid distractions like talking on the phone. Make sure your child has a life jacket on at all times in and around lakes or the ocean, even if they know how to swim. Put a life jacket on a weaker swimmer in the pool. Install a four-sided fence around your backyard swimming pool with self-closing and self-latching gates.

  5. Guard the flame! Like poisoning, burn injuries send 300 children to the ED and claim the lives of two children daily. Closely supervise or restrict a child’s use of the stove, oven, hair curling irons, and clothing irons. Make sure you have smoke alarms on every floor of the house and near all bedrooms, and remember to test them every month. Set your water heater to 120° Fahrenheit or lower to prevent burns from hot water in the bath or sink.

The home, meant to be a place of love and nurturing, can be a very dangerous place for your child. With careful attention, you can make your home safer and help your child avoid an ED visit. Now that’s smart parenting!

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