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Preventing injuries in young children

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Tony Anagnostou, MD

Did you know that injuries are the No. 1 cause of death in children younger than 4 years of age? Most of these serious injuries can be prevented. Here are some common injuries and how to prevent them.

Birth to 6 months 

Car Injuries: Use that car seat correctly every time by following manufacturers’ guidelines and make sure your child’s car seat faces the rear of the car.

Falls: Never leave your baby alone when on an elevated surface (changing table, bed, sofa, etc). Protect stairways using gates and closed doors and use window guards on all upstairs rooms.

Burns: Don’t carry your baby and hot liquids/foods at the same time. Set water temperatures less than 120 degrees. If burns do occur immediately flush burned area with cold water for a few minutes, wrap burn with clean loose cloth and get medical attention. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, test them every month, and change batteries every year.

Choking and Suffocation: Inspect play areas to ensure there are no small objects that baby could put in their mouth. Avoid hard round foods such as raw carrots, hot dogs, grapes, nuts, and popcorn. Learn how to save the life of a choking child. Put baby on their back to sleep and remove all toys, pillows, blankets, bumpers, or loose bedding from the crib. Babies should not sleep on waterbeds, in car seats, swings, or bean bag chairs.

Your child is precious! Take these simple extra steps to help keep them healthy and safe.

1 to 4 years

Poisonings: Use safety caps on all medications and toxic household products and keep these cabinets locked at all times. Know the Poison control number. Monitor your child’s exploration time to prevent accidental poisoning. Keep coin cell batteries (lithium cells) away from children — if they swallow them they can be fatal.

Firearms: Keep guns unloaded and locked up with ammunition stored and locked separately. Ask friends and family to do the same when you visit.

Falls: Lock doors to dangerous areas, use gates on stairways and install window guards on 2nd story windows. Keep chairs and stools away from counters and other high places.

Burns: Use playpens, cribs, or child gates to prevent your child from entering the kitchen while you are cooking. Keep hot liquids and foods out of your child’s reach. Keep water temperature below 120 degrees. Children tend to reach up to tables and ovens and can pull hot objects down on themselves easily. If a burn occurs, flush skin with cold water for 5 minutes or more then get medical attention immediately for any burns that occur.

Drowning: Never ever leave your child alone in water (anything more than 2 inches is dangerous). Keep bathroom doors closed, fence in swimming pools with at least a 4-foot high fence.

Car Injuries: Use the appropriate car seat every time your child rides in the car. They can remain rear-facing as long as possible. Follow manufacturer warnings. Remove blankets and heavy jackets before placing car seat straps on your baby. Never leave your child alone in or around a car.

Injuries often happen because parents are not aware of what their children can do. Children do not understand danger or consequences yet so it is your job to protect them and keep them safe from harm. If a serious injury occurs, always call 911 immediately to be taken to the closest trauma hospital (In Roswell and surrounding area this is ENMMC).

If you need to see a doctor for minor injury or information on prevention go to EasternNewMexicoMedicalGroup.com to make an appointment online.

Tony Anagnostou is a medical doctor for Eastern New Mexico Medical Group. The advice offered in this column is that of the author.