Childr Health Information

Accidental Injury

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Topic: General Child Health

The greatest threat to your child’s health is accidental injury. Many parents believe that their children are safe because they are always watched closely. It is simply not possible to watch a child every minute of the day. Therefore, the child’s surroundings must be made as safe as possible. Start teaching safety as soon as your child can crawl but remember that young children do not have a concept of danger and need you to provide a safe environment for them.

Prevent car injuries:

It is the law that all children younger than 4 years of age and less than 40 pounds travel in a car seat. Ohio law also requires all children younger than age 8 to ride in a federally approved car seat or booster seat, unless the child is 4’9” or taller. If a child is over age 8 but under 4’9” tall, a booster seat is still recommended.

  1. Always use car safety seats, booster seats or seat belts every time you ride.
  2. Never use a car seat that has been in a crash. One crash is enough to “stress” the plastic. It will be more likely to break and cause injuries.
  3. Use manufacturer’s guidelines for your car seat as well as the directions in your car’s manual to correctly install your child’s car seat.
  4. Secondhand (used) seats (bought at garage sales, thrift stores, etc) are not recommended.

Children should ride in the back seat:
  1. Infants. Use a rear facing care seat to at least age 1 and 20 pounds. Never place an infant seat in the front seat with an airbag. If your vehicle does not have a back seat, turn off the airbag.
  2. Toddlers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping toddlers rear-facing to the limits of a convertible car seat (some seat’s weight limits go as high as 35 pounds). Then use a forward-facing car seat (convertible or combo seat) until the child is at least 4 years old and 40 pounds. If your child reaches 40 pounds before his or her birthday, consider purchasing a higher weight harness car seat (up to 65 pounds). Children cannot sit in a booster seat until they are mature enough to never place the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt under their arm or behind their backs.
  3. Boosters. Use a booster seat with the vehicles’ lap and shoulder safety belts until your child is 4’9” tall or if your child passes the safety belt fit test. For the safety belt fit test, visit Dayton Children’s website ( or ask for the Child Health Information sheet on booster seats.

Prevent electrical burns:
  1. Cover electrical outlets with safety plugs.
  2. Replace worn electrical cords.
  3. Keep electrical cords out of child’s reach.
  4. Do not put electrical cords (including extension cords) under carpets or throw rugs.
  5. Do not allow your child to have small objects that could be stuck in electrical outlets.

Prevent fire and burn injuries:
  1. Lower hot water temperature to 120 degrees F (degrees Fahrenheit) or below by lowering the temperature setting on the hot water heater or tank (saves energy too).Test water temperature with your elbow before placing child into the tub.
  2. Be careful when cooking, boiling water or using cooking oils.Use back burners on stove. Turn pot handles toward back of stove.Use teakettles to boil water.
  3. Keep hot liquids away from children. Use cups that do not tip over easily. Do not drink hot liquids while holding a child. Only adults should remove hot items from a microwave.
  4. If possible, keep small children out of the kitchen while cooking. Keep them as far away from the stove as you can.
  5. Place irons, toasters, curling irons and other items with cords out of reach so they cannot be pulled off the table and onto a child.
  6. Keep your child away from wood-burning stoves, radiators, electric heaters, kerosene heaters and fireplaces.
  7. Keep all matches and lighters out of your child’s reach. Use childproof lighters when possible. Don’t buy novelty lighters that look like toys.
  8. Use smoke detectors downstairs and upstairs, placing them close to bedrooms. Check the battery monthly and replace twice a year. Do this in the spring and fall with the time change.
  9. Do not smoke or hold hot foods or liquids while holding your child.

Prevent drowning:
  1. Empty all buckets, containers and wading pools immediately after use. Store them upside down out of your
  2. child’s reach.
  3. Never leave a child alone in the bathtub.
  4. Keep toilet lids shut.
  5. Always supervise your child while bathing, swimming or playing near water.
  6. Pools, hot tubs and water features should have fencing to keep kids out. Use pool alarms, covers, door alarms, and drain protectors to keep kids safe.Children can drown in as little as 1 inch of water!

Lock up dangerous objects:

Use locks for cabinets containing:

• all medicines and vitamins
• cleaning supplies (dish soap, drain openers, toilet bowl cleaner, etc.)
• knives
• gasoline or kerosene
• poisons of any kind:  rat or mouse poison, charcoal lighter, pet shampoos/powders, bug sprays, fertilizers and weed spray
• guns and bullets should be kept separate and stored in different places-bullets in one place, guns in another place

Keep dangerous substances/objects up high and out of sight.

Teach safety for the following:

• streets
• pools
• knives, guns
• matches
• electrical outlets and cords, outdoor grills, stoves, irons
• empty refrigerators
• lawn mowers, saws and power tools

Start teaching safety as soon as your child can crawl but remember that young children do not have a concept of danger and need you to provide a safe environment for them.

Toy safety:

  1. Always watch your children when they are playing.
  2. Use toys in a safe place. Riding toys (toys with wheels) should not be used near stairs, traffic or swimming pools.
  3. Latex balloons are a choking hazard; Mylar balloons should be used instead. Throw away any balloons that do not have air in them.
  4. Inspect old toys for broken or loose parts.
  5. Choose toys for your child’s age. The age will be shown on the toy’s box.
  6. Avoid toys with sharp edges or small parts that could be swallowed.
  7. Put toys away. Make sure toys for older children are separate from toys for little ones.
  8. Check toy recalls often. Go to the Consumer Product Safety Commission website ( for the latest information, sign up for their recall list or call Dayton Children’s Family Resource Center.

Prevent falls:

  1. Use baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
  2. Carpet stairways.
  3. Remove furniture with low, sharp corners.
  4. Pad fireplace hearths (when not in use).
  5. Move chairs and furniture away from windows. Make sure any open window has a screen that cannot be
    pushed out.
  6. Replace glass in storm doors with unbreakable glass.
  7. NEVER use baby walkers on wheels. Use activity centers that do not move around.
  8. Use the safety belt in shopping carts and don’t let your child stand in the cart. Stay close to the cart at all times.
  9. Do not allow children younger than 6 years to sleep on the top bunk of the bed. Make sure that the space between the mattress and the bed frame headboard, footboard and rails is less than 3 ½ inches-about the width of a soda can.
  10. Keep stairs clear of toys and clutter.

Prevent choking:

  1. Place infants on their backs on a firm, flat crib mattress in a crib that meets safety standards. Remove pillows, comforters, toys and other soft objects from the crib.
  2. Watch young children when they are eating or playing. Do not allow children younger than 6 years to eat round or hard foods like peanuts, raw carrots, popcorn or hard candy. Children under 6 years should not eat hot dogs or grapes unless the skin is removed and the food has been cut into smaller bites.
  3. Keep small items such as coins, safety pins, buttons and jewelry out of reach.
  4. Remove hood drawstrings from jackets. Never let your child wear necklaces, purses, scarves or clothing with drawstrings while at play.
  5. A backpack should not have drawstrings hanging or any toy added to the outside that could get caught in a car or bus door.
  6. Tie up all window blind and drapery cords or cut the end and fit with safety tassels.
Prevent injuries when a child is walking:
  1. Never allow children younger than 10 years to cross the street alone.
  2. Teach your child to cross streets at a corner or crosswalk whenever possible. Look left, right and left again when crossing a street and watch for traffic until safely across.
  3. Teach your child to NEVER run into a street for any reason.
  4. Remind your child to make eye contact with the driver of a car or bus before crossing in front of them even if they are stopped.
  5. Teach children to wait for an adult on the same side that the bus unloads and cross at least 10 feet in front of the
    bus after being told to cross by the bus driver.
  6. Make sure your child wears reflective materials and carries a flashlight when walking at dusk or dawn (early morning or late afternoon).
  7. Teach children to walk facing the traffic and as far off the road as possible when there are no sidewalks.
  8. Do not allow your child to play in driveways, streets or parking lots. Be sure drivers see all children before backing out of a driveway.
Prevent injuries from bicycles and other toys with wheels:
  1. Make sure your child ALWAYS wears a helmet. The helmet should fit on top of your child’s head and should be level (not tipped to the front or the back). It should not rock back and forth. Your child should wear knee, elbow and wrist guards as well as a helmet when skating or riding a bike or scooter.
  2. Remind your child to keep well to the side of the road and ride in the same direction as traffic.
  3. Remind your child to use hand signals to show turns and stops. Follow all traffic rules. Stop at stop signs.
  4. Biking and skating should be only on sidewalks and paths until the child shows he or she can follow traffic
    rules and can make good choices (usually 10 years of age).
Prevent ATV (all-terrain vehicle) injuries:
  1. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children who are not licensed to drive a car should not be allowed to operate off-road vehicles. Because their nervous systems and judgment have not fully developed, offroad vehicles are particularly dangerous for children younger than 16 years.
  2. Children riding ATVs should:
    • Wear proper protective gear (this includes goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over the ankle boots)
    • Always wear a helmet
    • Be supervised by a responsible adult
    • Respect surroundings
    • Ride only on trails and/or familiar areas
    • Always ride responsibly
    • Do not ride on paved roads or sidewalks
    • Do not ride at night
    • Flags, reflectors and lights should be used to make vehicles more visible.
    •  Drivers of recreational vehicles should not drive while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or even some prescription medicines. Parents should set an example for their children in this regard.
    •  Don’t ride double. Passengers are frequently injured when riding ATVs

PDF: Accidental Injury #1040

Derechos de autor(c) de The Children's Medical Center, ano 1999. Este material unicamente tiene fines educativos. No puede ser reproducido, distribuido ni modificado sin previa autorizacion de The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, One Children's Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815. Llame al 937-641-3666 para solicitar autorizacion o para obtener un juego maestro para copias. Para obtener mas informacion puede visitar (consulte la seccion de informacion legal).

La informacion contenida en este material es unicamente informacion de tipo general. No debe considerarse como completa. Para obtener mas informacion acerca de los complementos para leche materna, por favor pidala a su doctor.
Corregido: 1994, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010

The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered complete. For specific information about bathing your baby, please ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Additional information may be located in the Family Resource Center, 2nd floor, near the Outpatient Surgery Center. Hours of the center vary; please contact the Family Resource Center at 937-641-3700.

Copyright(c) The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. This material is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced or distributed without permission from Dayton Children's.
Revised: 1994, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010


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