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Preventing Your Child From Falling

Apr 18, 2008
Falls are the leading cause of emergency department visits and hospitalizations among children under 5 years old. If your child falls and you suspect he or she has an injury, especially if there was a blow to the child's head or a broken bone, call your doctor immediately. Here are some steps you can take to help prevent your children from injuring themselves in a fall:

* Never leave your infant alone on a bed, changing table, couch, or chair. If you cannot hold your baby for some reason, put him or her in a safe place such as a crib or playpen.

* Never use a walker-your child could tip it over and get a serious head injury.

* Always strap your child into a high chair or stroller. When purchasing these items, choose those with straps that are easy for you to fasten and unfasten, so you will be more likely to use them properly each time.

* When your baby starts to crawl, install gates at the top and bottom of your stairways and close the doors to rooms in which your child could get hurt. Use only mesh gates that have very small openings or gates with horizontal slats that are spaced no more than 2~/8 inches apart Avoid the older accordion gates with large openings, which can trap a child's neck or fingers.

* In the tub or shower, use a rubber mat or apply adhesive strips to the bottom.

* Install window guards on all windows above the first floor. An unguarded window that is open only 5 inches can pose a danger to children under 10 years of age. Don't rely on screens to prevent falls. Screens are designed for keeping insects out-not for keeping active children in.

* Keep stairways well lighted and free of clutter Don t let children play on stairs or play alone on a fire escape high porch or balcony Fix all loose railings or boards If you rent ask your landlord to make these repairs
* Move chairs and other furniture away from windows kitchen counters and other high places that are tempting to curious young climbers

* Remove furniture with hard or sharp edges from areas where your child plays or cover the edges with specially made cushioning

* If you allow your child to ride in a shopping cart at the grocery store always use the restraining belts in the cart Don t let an older child climb into a shopping cart or hang onto the side or front of the cart

Even though care should be taken to prevent you child from falling, when the unexpected happens and your child falls, parents should quickly diagnose the extent of the fall to determine its severity. If a child falls and the injury is visible, determine the extent of the injury. For injuries which are not visible, it may be a good idea to go to a doctor. Parents should also be careful not to underestimate the extent of the injury. Just because a child looks playful after they fall, does not meet that medical care should not be sought.
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