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How to Prevent Childhood Injuries...

Date: 29-01-2007

Caring for Children:

How to Prevent Childhood Injuries

Injuries are a leading cause of death in children and teenagers in developed countries. They are also a significant cause of childhood morbidity.

The causes of unintentional injury vary according to age and include:

•  suffocation

•  falls

•  drowning

•  fires

•  burns

•  poisoning

•  motor-vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian related crashes

However, most injuries are preventable by proper education, by modifying the child's environment and having parents engage in safety measures.

We will review some of the leading causes of unintentional injuries and the means of prevention:


•  Suffocation:

  Today, most suffocation deaths occur because infants are placed in sleeping environments that do not meet guidelines for infant safety such as:

•  wedging between the mattress and bed frame

•  bedding or soft sleeping surface (can cause oronasal obstruction)

•  overlaying by another person

•  spaces through which the body can pass but the head can get entrapped

•  caught clothing that can cause hanging

Avoiding all the above is effective means for the prevention of suffocation and sudden death in infants.


•  Falls:

Falls are a leading cause of nonfatal injuries in children of all ages.

•  Window guards are highly effective in preventing serious injuries related to falls from windows.

•  A significant cause of falls in infants – particularly downstairs - is the use of infant walkers.


•  Drowning:

Pool fencing is effective in preventing drowning in residential swimming pools when it:

•  completely surrounds the pool

•  does not allow direct access from the house

•  has self-closing, self-latching gates

•  is made of material difficult to climb

However, children can still be at risk of drowning in natural bodies of water and bath tubs and inadequately fenced or unfenced swimming pools.

Drowning rates are highest in children from one to three years old and drowning in this age group often occurs during brief laps in supervision.

So the best means of prevention is never to leave children aged less than four years old alone or under the supervision of another child while in bath tubs, pools or spas or when they are near open water, even for a short period of time.

•  Fires and Burns:

Effective prevention strategies are:

•  reducing temperature of hot water to less than 54ºC to avoid injuries from scald burns

•  storing matches and lighters out of children's reach to avoid house fires

•  properly installing and maintaining residential smoke detectors


•  Poisonings :

Prevention is done by:

•  use of childproof caps on medications and household poisons (child-resistant packaging)

•  keeping these items in places that are inaccessible to children


•  Motor-vehicle crashes, pedestrian and bicycle-related injuries:

Preventive measures:

•  Appropriate restraints (car seats, seat belts) should be used.

•  Children should not travel in cargo wagons of pickup trucks.

•  Children less than sixteen years old should not use off-road vehicles or ride in lawnmowers.

•  Your teenage driving should be limited to daylight hours only.

•  Bicycle helmets are used to reduce the risk of head injury in the case of bicycle crash.

•  Protective gear should also be used for skating, skate-boarding and scooter ridings.

•  Never let the child play in or near streets. Teach your young child to always stop at the curb and never cross the street without an adult.

•  Remind older children to stop at the curb and check traffic before crossing the street.


In conclusion:

•  Parents-focused and environmental strategies are effective means of preventing injuries, particularly those occurring in young children at home.

•  Parents should actively get involved, learn, and implement these strategies because simply "being careful" is not adequate protection from injury.

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