September – National Childhood Injury Prevention Month
By – Stu Willis, MD & Gina Gallette, RN
Boundary Community Hospital Emergency Department
Your three-year-old child falls from the ladder as he mimics his dad changing a light bulb a few minutes ago…he’s unconscious and has a softball-size swelling on his forehead! Your six-year-old daughter slips and slices into her tummy while “playing mommy” cutting a zucchini…there’s a lot of blood and she’s barely breathing! What panic just the thought of these cause parents. What fret for friends and relatives. And then, “Where did I put the cell so I can call 9-1-1?”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 million children visit U.S. emergency departments each year due to an injury – that’s one visit for every six children…and tragically, over 10,000 are fatal. Injury is the leading cause of death and disability for U.S. children.
In the past 11 months, the Emergency Department of Boundary Community Hospital treated 287 persons under the age of 18 for injuries. Over 130 were fractures, dislocations, and sprains. Over 60 were injuries to the head and neck, more than 50 were deep cuts, along with a scattering of burns, bites, stings, and a few potential poison ingestions. The majority of these injuries were related to motor vehicle accidents, organized sports, or playground-type activities.
In 2012 the Center for Disease Control (CDC) launched the National Action Plan (NAP) for Child Injury Prevention. The goals of this NAP are first to raise awareness of childhood injuries; second, highlight preventive solutions; and finally, implement those solutions to decrease childhood injuries through community education and training.
Looking back over the last few decades, various child safety initiatives have made a difference…“child-proofing the home,” use of child safety seats and bike helmets, concussion guidelines for sports injuries, installing smoke alarms and pool fencing, to name a few. While childhood injuries have decreased, the NAP goal is for continuous improvement.
The staff of Boundary Community Hospital is dedicated to providing more than just treatment of injuries – we play an active and key role in community education in injury prevention.
A Few “Be Safe” Reminders:
- Motor vehicles: Inside of vehicles, use appropriately sized and fitted restraints and safety seats; watch for distracted drivers; and set an example – no texting or using the cell phone while driving. Outside of vehicles, teach and model safe pedestrian habits.
- Water safety: Use life jackets…they float, you don’t. Also, install and maintain safety fencing around pools
- Poisoning: Keep all medications and cleaning products secured and out of the reach of children. Also, post the Poison Control Center phone number, 1-800-222-1222
- Fire safety: Prevent burns with safe cooking practices and review basic fire safety with your children. Also, use smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and review safe exits from your home in the event of a fire
- Falls and sports: Always wear the proper helmet for the activity. Also, be aware of safety factors and potential hazards in your child’s play area
And parents, keep in mind your children are much more likely to follow safety measures if you model them. As the old saying goes, “More is caught than taught” – your example is powerful.