Pressing Concerns on Child Safety: What Else Can We Do?

child safety village

Historical Accounts

Utah news has featured various cases of children accidents – accidents that have claimed young lives while leaving the family heartbroken. Are these accidents new or have they been happening in the past?

Statistics from Center of Disease and Prevention have stories to tell. According to the report on fatal injuries:

  • On average, 12,175 children 0 to 19 years of age die each year in the United States from an unintentional injury.
  • Injuries due to transportation were the leading cause of death for children.
  • The highest death rates were among occupants of motor vehicles in traffic.
  • There were also a substantial number of pedestrian and pedal cyclist deaths among children.
  • For children less than one year of age, 2/3 of injury deaths were due to suffocation.
  • Drowning was the leading cause of death for those one to four years of age.
  • For children five to 19 years of age, the most injury deaths were due to being an occupant in a motor vehicle traffic crash.

Non-fatal injuries on the other hand have this number:

  • An estimated 9.2 million children annually had an initial emergency department visit for an unintentional injury.
  • Males generally had higher nonfatal injury rates than females.
  • For children one to 19 years of age, nonfatal injury rates were higher among males than females, while the rates were approximately the same for those under one year.
  • Injuries due to falls were the leading cause of nonfatal injury.
  • Each year, approximately 2.8 million children have an initial emergency department visit for injuries from a fall.
  • For children less than one year of age, falls accounted for over 50% of nonfatal injuries.

The majority of nonfatal injuries are from five causes:

  1. Falls were the leading cause of nonfatal injury for all age groups less than 15.
  2. For children ages 0 to 9, the next two leading causes were being stuck by or against an object, and animal bites or insect stings.
  3. For children 10 to 14 years of age, the next leading causes were being struck by or against an object and overexertion.
  4. For children 15 to 19 years of age, the three leading causes of nonfatal injuries were being struck by or against an object, falls, and motor vehicle occupant injuries.

In Utah Injury Deaths among Children 0 to 19 Years of Age

  • The number of unintentional injury deaths for the period 2000 – 2005 was 681; that is an average of 114 deaths per year.
  • The unintentional injury death rate was 13.7 per 100,000 population; this was lower than the national rate of 15.0 per 100,000 population.

Recent Events

The ordinary swing set on one’s backyard can cause serious damage to children who are alone in their play time. Precious minutes that an adult is unable to help a child caught in the rope translates to loss of lives or serious injury.

Even the toddler who wandered off and who fell into a man-made pond is an example of the consequence of precious minutes an adult takes off his eyes from a young child.

Accidents are events that are unexpected, but we could say that it is a moment where we are caught off guard thinking that nothing bad could possibly happen, but then it happens.

Children, especially the very young ones, are not yet equipped with discernment so they often wander off and fall into trouble. This is the reason why adults should never leave alone children under five years of age.

One incident involving a one year old toddler who often helped his mom do the laundry by tossing the clothes into a washing machine clearly shows that little children are not aware of the potential danger that simple and seemingly harmless activities may cause them. Tragic as it may seem, the toddler went to his usual task without his mother’s presence and fell into the washing machine, which caused his untimely death.

A recent article discussed an increase in the number of young children hurt by falling television sets. According to the article, when families are able to purchase the newest model of TV sets, they tend to put the old and heavier model on top of a dresser in a bedroom. A young child would then climb using the drawers of the dresser as stairs, then the TV becomes imbalanced, topples down and hurts the child in the process. Children involved in this kind of accident are usually under five years of age. They often sustain head and neck injuries including concussions, which are the most common.

Authorities advise parents to secure all furniture and ensure that no heavy object can fall on young children during their playful exploration in the house.

Another report mentioned a toddler who fell from the balcony of an apartment complex. The accident happened because the toddler allegedly wandered off and was able to slip through the bars of the balcony railing.

Apparently some of these recent accidents have happened to other children in the past. So what else can we do?

Strategies to Reduce Injuries to Children

1. Easy to Access On-line Resources

Utah Safety Council listed a number of safety tips for motorists with children. Buckle Up has been the most important slogan in car travel. Children should be properly restrained at all times during travel. Children also need special types of restraint according to age. Parents can easily access literature on the installation and proper use of child restraint.

The Department of Health also provides on-line resources to help parents take care of their children properly.

2. Organizations in Utah for Child Safety

Organizations have been established to look closely into the needs and protection of Utah Children. These organizations are:

1. Safe Kids Utah

With the slogan or mission of “to eliminate unintentional injury and death to children in Utah,” the organization has various online resources on maintaining safety for children. Take time to read these, for they can help you deal properly with all eventualities.

2. Utah Department of Health

The Utah Department of Health has a program called violence and injury prevention program (VIPP). Its website contains all these wonderful information that will surely equip people with useful knowledge concerning health and safety concerns. The website declares that they “use data- driven, evidence-based interventions to promote healthy lifestyles and behaviors; detect and prevent injury and disease; and improve access to quality health care for all people of Utah including the state’s most vulnerable populations.”

It is said that an “ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.” By reading and following the safety tips provided by the Utah Department of Health, we could at least keep the children safe from injury and harm.

3. Education

One Sheriff department went a step further by having kids take training on how to safely defend themselves. Accordingly the program is called radKIDS. This training empowers children from ages five to 11 years old for their own safety. In just 10 hours of instruction, the radKIDS curriculum provides children and parents with lifesaving skills and tools to recognize, avoid, resist and escape violence and harm in their lives. Topics covered are Out and About Safety, Bullying, Internet Safety, Stranger Danger as well as Defense against Abduction including Physical Resistance Skills and much more.

Tips to Help You Remember:

Secure your house from anything that may unintentionally injure your child. Read child proofing strategies that you can use.

Attend to your child at all times. We have to accept the fact that younger children are prone to misbehavior and experimentation. It is crucial that we are always aware of what the child is doing even if he is inside the house or playing in the backyard.

Follow all state regulations on child safety by heart. They were crafted to help you take care of your children. For example, the use of seat restraint for children is already a state law. You will be penalized for non-wearing of seat belts.

Educate your children. Always talk to your children about safety in the use of play equipment. Instill in them proper use of all playthings. Children who are aware of the danger and of expected behavior will have higher chances of being safe.

Keep car keys, guns and toxic substances away from children’s reach. A number of fatal cases have indicated that children will play with these things if they are not locked away or hidden in designated places that children cannot access.

Involve all family members in making the home environment safe for young children. If there is an older sibling who will sometimes drive the car for the younger children, remind her to buckle up all car occupants at all times and obey all traffic rules, especially those concerning speed.

Discipline yourself well on safety measures to serve as a model to all members of your family. Children will often imitate the actions of the older family members. If the children observe that you adhere strictly to safety measures, they will also value that habit and learn how to keep themselves safe.

Adults must collaborate to reduce incidence of injury among children. Let us cooperate in keeping Utah safe for all. The little deeds we do today are good investments for the future.

Photo “childrens safety village” copy right of Regan Walsh.

 

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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