Fall Injuries: Protecting Children
One of the leading causes of serious injuries for children as well as adults has to do with falls. A fall refers to any sudden and unplanned drop to the ground or to a lower level that could lead to injuries.
Many people downplay the significant injuries that could be associated with a fall but these can present significant medical conditions and other problems. Falls in children are often due to the existence of external hazards near the falling location such as open windows, playground equipment, or stairs. In order to prevent fall injuries, parents must be aware of the potential risks and do everything possible in order to decrease the risks in their own home. Children also have a challenge with accurately assessing risks and have a greater likelihood to engage in curiosity and a higher preference for risk taking. In combination with their lack of completely developed motor skills and coordination, this can lead to devastating injuries.
According to research at the national level, falls are the leading cause of hospitalized injury in the United States for children between the ages of zero and 14. In 2012 approximately 34,000 children between the ages of zero and 14 were hospitalized for unintentional falls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that falls are also the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries for children between the ages of zero and 4. There are several different strategies that parents can implement in order to protect children from fall related injuries. These include:
- Removing fall hazards from wherever possible.
- Supervising children near potential fall hazards.
- Using appropriate safety protection while playing sports such as wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads, and helmets.
- Giving soft landing surfaces below playground equipment.
- Putting guards on windows or safety gates near stairs to prevent injuries
Every parent knows how hard it is to protect children from the injuries associated with falling. Preventing falls requires constant supervision in particular for a child who has recently learned to walk. There are plenty of things, however, that parents can do to decrease the chances of a child suffering a serious fall injury. Preventing falls at home often begins with a careful consideration of the various fall risks. These include:
- Stairs. Putting safety gates at the bottom and the top of staircases and using doorknob covers on doors that lead to staircases can decrease the chances that a child will accidentally find these.
- Balconies and porches. You should never allow a child to play unattended on a porch or a balcony or a fire escape.
- Baby equipment and furniture. Pre-installed safety straps can go a long way towards decreasing the chances that a child will tip it over or fall out.
- Beds. Using safety rails on beds for toddlers and not using bunk beds until a child has achieved age 6 can help to decrease injuries.
- Windows. Did you know that most children younger than age 5 can fit through a 6-inch opening? In order to decrease window falls, use stops that prevent windows from opening any farther than 4 inches. Window guards can also be used to cover the lower part of the window. Critical prevention strategies include moving furniture away from windows and supervising children in any rooms with open windows.
If a child has sustained a fall injury, your ability to act quickly and get appropriate medical attention can help decrease their chances for severe injury. Many parents may not realize the scope of an injury that has occurred because the child may be experiencing shock after it has happened. It can also be difficult for younger children to articulate the pain that they are experiencing. Being aware of these risks and knowing by look alone that your child may have suffered a critical medical injury can prompt you to get treatment immediately.
Having you child evaluated by a doctor can help to illuminate whether or not the child has suffered an injury that may require further treatment and protection. Although prevention goes a long way towards minimizing the chance of injuries to begin with, taking the necessary steps now to protect yourself from the dangers of these injuries and giving your child the peace of mind that you have taken all of the necessary risks out of the equation is important. An injury lawyer may be able to help you if your child suffered after a serious accident due to negligence.