Preventing Childhood Accidents

GAINESVILLE, Fla. 10-year-old Austin Johnson is lucky to be alive.

"I was real scared," Austin told Ivanhoe.

On Christmas day, a trip with his mom to his great-grandparents' house was cut short. The Johnson's car was crushed.

"My leg was just pounding, and it felt like it was about to explode," Austin recalled.

Austin survived, but too often, that's not the case. Preventable accidents account for 40 percent of child deaths in the United States.

"When we do see these accidents occurring, they're usually in clusters through summer travel, holiday travel," Preeti Jois-Bilowich, M.D., an emergency physician from Shands at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla., told Ivanhoe.

In a recent World Health Organization report, traffic injuries top the list of deadly accidents involving kids, followed by drownings and burns.

Most of the time, protecting your child starts at home, where more than a third of injuries to kids take place.

For 14-month-old Brendan Green, it took just a few seconds to get hurt. A hot cup of water scalded 13-percent of his body.

"I mean, it's purely an accident, and I think we all understand that," Meg Green, Brendan's mom, told Ivanhoe. "But I just couldn't believe that he was in that much pain, and there was nothing that I could do for him."

What can parents do? Safeguard the house. Get on your hands and knees to look for anything that can get kids into trouble. Put safety plugs in electrical outlets, turn handles in when cooking, put a safety fence around pools, and during large gatherings, never assume others are watching your kids.

"Every parent, once they have a child or are even planning to have a child, should undergo some type of basic life support or CPR training," Dr. Jois-Bilowich said.

Training that could save a life.

The World Health report found boys die more often than girls in accidents, except when it comes to burns. Every day, 300 children are brought to the emergency room to be treated for hot water burns. Half of those are because parents put their kids in bathwater that was too hot.


World Health Organization
American Academy of Pediatrics
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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