The greatest number of trauma patients is represented by those between the ages of 13 and 25. Nationwide, accidental injuries make up the leading cause of death for children 14 and under. Nearly 14 million children each year suffer a traumatic injury serious enough to require medical attention. Many of those incidents happen at home – often during the summertime and evening hours when children are not being supervised.
Our mission at Carilion Clinic is to promote injury prevention, education and research to help decrease this number in the future. We strongly believe that many traumatic injuries can be avoided if common sense safety precautions are taught and used.
MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among those ages 5 – 34 in the U.S. More than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments as the result of being injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2009.
- Distracted Driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving; these activities can increase the chance of a motor vehicle crash. Using a cell phone, texting, eating, and using in-vehicle technologies (such as navigation systems) are a few examples. While any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others, texting while driving is especially dangerous. For more information on Distracted Driving and to learn ways to prevent motor vehicle accidents, visit the CDC for Motor Vehicle Safety.
- Seat Belt Use – The CDC states that adult seat belt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in motor vehicle crashes. For more information on seat belt use, visit the CDC for Motor Vehicle Safety.
- Child Restraint – According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, thousands of children are killed or injured each year as a result of automobile accidents. Using the proper restraint system for your children will greatly increase their chances of avoiding serious injury in the event of a car accident. For more information about choosing a car seat for your child, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics at HealthyChildren.org.
- Impaired Driving – Nearly one third of crash deaths involve and impaired driver. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), this equates to one death every 53 minutes and at an annual cost of $51 billion. Learn more about the dangers of Impaired Driving.
Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for all children ages 0 to 19. Among older adults (those 65 or older), falls are the leading cause of injury death.
Preventing Fall injuries in children
- Play safely. Falls on the playground are a common cause of injury. Check to make sure that the surfaces under playground equipment are safe, soft, and well- maintained (such as wood chips or sand, not dirt or grass).
- Make your home safer. Use home safety devices, such as guards on windows that are above ground level, stair gates, and guard rails. These devices can help keep a busy, active child from taking a dangerous tumble.
- Keep sports safe. Make sure your child wears protective gear during sports and recreation. For example, when in-line skating, use wrist guards, knee and elbow pads, and a helmet.
- Supervision is key. Supervise young children at all times around fall hazards, such as stairs and playground equipment, whether you're at home or out to play.
Preventing Fall injuries for older adults
- Exercise regularly. Activities that increase leg strength and improve balance such as Tai Chi are especially good.
- Have your Doctor or pharmacist identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness that may led to falling.
- Have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update their eyeglasses to maximize their vision.
- Make the home safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding railings on both sides of stairways and improving the lighting in their homes.
SPORTS INJURY PREVENTION TIPS
While many children will experience a minor sprain during the course of their athletic careers, there are also more serious consequences that can result from carelessness or recklessness in sports – including serious fractures and even paralysis. Some important guidelines to follow include:
- Wearing all appropriate protective gear/equipment for your particular sport including helmets, pads, shoes, gloves, neck rolls, sunglasses, etc.
- Understanding and following the rules for your sport.
- Warm up slowly and stretch before your event.
- Use proper sports techniques, especially to help avoid repetitive motion injuries.
- Train and cross-train for your sport to be prepared physically.
- Listen to your body and stop if you are in pain.
Many U.S. homes – nearly 40 percent – have some sort of firearm within them. About ¾ of these are hunting rifles, while the rest are handguns. It is often hard for an adult to distinguish between a real gun and a toy gun, and it is even harder for children. At the same time, TV and video games have desensitized many children to the lethal consequences of firearms.
The only way to completely remove the threat of firearm accidents is to remove all firearms from your home, however there are other steps you can take to greatly minimize the risk to you and your children:
- Always store firearms locked, unloaded and separate from ammunition.
- Tell your children that if they see a firearm (at home or elsewhere) to not touch it and immediately inform an adult.
- Make sure your neighbors, family members and friends follow the same safety rules at their homes.
- Equip all firearms with safety devices and store them in a locked cabinet.