Keeping kids safe from accidents

Accidents are killing far fewer children and teenagers than in the past, according to a new government report released Monday. (AP Photo/Messenger-Inquirer/John Dunham)

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released headline-grabbing new statistics about accidental injuries and deaths among kids and teens this week, the good news was that overall deaths dropped 29 percent between 2000 and 2009. But there was bad news, too. Accidental poisonings rose 91percent in older teens. Suffocation deaths in babies rose 54 percent. And accidents still killed 9,143 kids.

It’s important:

  • Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for kids and teens ages one to 19, and the fifth-leading cause of death in babies.
  • From car accidents to drowning in backyard pools, house fires to swallowing grand mom’s medicine by mistake in the bathroom, accidents killed a reported 319 in Pennsylvania, 28 in Delaware and 102 according to the CDC.
  • For every death, 925 kids wind up in the emergency room and countless more are taken to the doctor’s office.

The good news that gets missed in many news accounts is that there’s plenty you can do to help kids stay safe.  The empowering details:

  • Keeping babies and kids in the right car safety seats reduces the risk of death in passenger cars by 71 percent for infants, and by 54 percent for toddlers ages 1 to 4 years, according to the CDC.
  • Keeping medicines capped and out of children’s reach could help prevent some of the estimated 60,000 cases of childhood medication poisonings treated in emergency rooms each year. Keeping the national Poison Help Line number by your phone — 1-800-222-1222 — is another smart move (call right away if you suspect your child’s swallowed something he or she shouldn’t have.)
  • Signing your kid up for formal swimming lessons could cut risk for drowning in little kids by up to 88 percent.
  • Keeping soft stuff – blankets, stuffed animals, bumpers, sleep positioners, and soft mattresses (get a firm one) – out of a baby’s crib cuts risk for suffocation, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Skip the big bed. Putting a baby to sleep in an adult bed boosts suffocation risk 20-fold, one study says.

All this week, the Healthy Kids blog will look at top causes of accidental injuries (fatal and non-fatal) and talk more about what parents, babysitters and kids themselves can do to stay safe.

Do you have any advice or stories to share about ways you keep your children safe, or lessons you learned the hard way after a near-miss or an accident happened? Please share it by posting a comment.