Minor Problems: Preventing Childhood Accidents

By Martha Michael

Risks of Childhood Accidents

When your child is born free of medical complications you breathe a sigh of relief and hope it continues. And like George and Joy Adamson (who raised Elsa the lion of Born Free fame), your job is to raise your little cub to adulthood in the safest possible manner.

But rearing children without burns, bruises or other accidental injuries is a challenge, because anything can happen.

Burns

Most parents are aware of hot surfaces such as stoves and barbecues, but other sources of heat can burn little hands or other parts of a child’s body when they make contact. Blow dryers and large heating appliances -- washers and dryers, hot water heaters, etc. -- can be too hot for their skin and cause injury.

According to the Burn Foundation, more than 500,000 children are scalded every year in the United States. Children under the age of 5 are most at risk of incurring burns from scalding.

Hot liquids are the main cause of scalding in children under 4 years old, the Foundation’s website says, mostly inflicted by coffee, tea, soup, or hot water. Set down your hot drink when picking up baby, and don’t leave bowls of hot food within a child’s reach. Be sure to test bath water -- without fail -- before lowering a child into the tub. Tap water is responsible for 17 percent of childhood hospitalizations due to scalding. At 140 degrees, hot water can cause third degree burns in five seconds.

Sources of electricity, including cords, can also burn children. Of course, babies should always be supervised, but also be aware of the temptation to poke their fingers into the holes of electrical sockets. New parents would be wise to purchase safety products, such as electrical outlet covers and bathtub spout guards.

Poisoning

Healthy kids get a lot of time exploring the outdoors. But there are risks associated with letting them roam some areas, even those close to home.

One of the leading causes of poisoning may be growing in your yard. The website for Texas A&M suggests we take caution because many ordinary house and garden plants are poisonous.

“Some plants, trees or shrubs are potential killers of man,” the Texas A&M article says. “Some part of the ornamental plants or flowers in your yard may contain deadly poison. Many poisonous plants are so common and seemingly innocuous you do not suspect their toxic qualities.”

Oleander bushes, for instance, are popular for their lush, colorful blooms, but they contain a stimulant resembling digitalis, a drug used to treat patients with congestive heart failure.

Other poisonous plants causing harm if ingested include:

  • Daffodils - The bulbs can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or even be fatal
  • Larkspur - The seeds can cause an upset stomach, nervousness, excitement, or death
  • Iris - Underground stems can cause an acute upset stomach
  • Foxglove - The leaves can increase the pulse, cause mental confusion or death
  • Azaleas - All parts can be fatal. In smaller amounts they can cause nausea, vomiting or depression
  • Mistletoe - The berries have been known to kill both children and adults

Falls

While falling is a normal part of every child’s experience, it’s up to adults to shield them from the harmful results of accidents. Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries in children, says an article on BabyCenter.com.

Some of the sources of falls for children include:

  • Playground equipment
  • Walkers
  • Highchairs
  • Shopping carts
  • Stairways

Swift treatment is important, of course, if you have a child who has taken a serious fall. Call 911 in the case of an emergency.

If your child falls and you want to gain some assurance about your little one’s condition, make an appointment with your chiropractor, who can determine whether or not there’s damage in need of treatment. With a comprehensive assessment, your practitioner can detect any trauma to the joints or spinal column and then recommend a treatment plan, if necessary.

If your child is falling frequently, there are many possible balance disorders and conditions that could be responsible, according to an article in Kids Health. There could be a problem with the ears, which are responsible for balance. Other parts of the body also contribute to helping an individual stand upright and preventing falls, such as joints and muscles.

Disorders causing imbalance are not very common. “Balance disorders are considered uncommon in kids and teens, but might be underestimated -- symptoms could be misdiagnosed as something else or missed altogether,” the article says. “But resolving kids' balance problems can make a big improvement in their overall quality of life -- their ability to play, learn, and feel as happy and healthy as possible.”

A chiropractor has expertise in the musculoskeletal system, and regular chiropractic care is a method for monitoring your baby’s spine health, which affects neurological messaging associated with falling, from movement to balance.

Choking

When children begin eating solid food they need supervision at all times, mostly to prevent choking. But there are concerns outside of mealtime too because little ones can put anything from Legos to toothpaste caps into their mouths.

Many of the small objects we consider innocuous household supplies can pose a threat to young kids. In addition to obvious dangers, such as batteries and balloons, parents should keep everyday items -- jewelry and kitchen tools, among them -- safely stowed out of reach of children.

Even objects that aren’t ingested can cause choking or strangulation. Cords hanging from window blinds or light fixtures can be hazardous and need to be placed up high to prevent kids from gaining access to them. There are also items that babies have regular contact with that need to be used with care. Blankets, pillows and baby hair bands are some of those everyday objects that should be placed safely out of range when not in use.

Parents know that bringing up baby isn’t something that can be scripted -- there are a lot of unknowns that can occur. But wild or tame, every child deserves safe parameters in which to grow healthy enough to, someday, roam free.

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