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Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death to children from age 1 to age 19 in the United States. On a yearly basis, 9000 children in the United States from birth to age 19 die as a result of their injuries, 30,000 are permanently disabled, and 8.7 million need emergency medical care for their injuries, with 225,000 needing hospitalization costing $87 billion. Males are at greater risk than females. Poverty, hunger, overcrowding, the age of the mother, location of housing, etc., contribute to an increase in injuries. The most common causes of injuries are: drowning, falls, fires or burns, poisoning, suffocation, sports or recreation, and injuries related to transportation. (See endnote 38.)

Motor vehicle injuries increase in number with the age of the child. In 2010, about 1200 children under 14 years of age died in motor vehicle crashes and 171,000 were injured. A study indicated that 618,000 children in a single year were riding without either a child safety seat, a booster seat or a seatbelt. About two thirds of the children killed were in car crashes with drunken drivers. (See endnote 37.)

Young worker safety and health is another concern. Young workers (aged 15-24 years) make up 14% of the United States labor force and are at high risk for injury on the job. They are injured while driving motor vehicles as part of their job, working in agricultural areas, working in landscaping, greenhouses and nurseries, working in restaurants, etc. (See endnotes 19, 20.)

The 10 most hazardous household items leading to childhood injuries include:

  • 1. Cords leading to asphyxiation
  • 2. Bathtubs leading to drowning
  • 3. Small toys leading to choking deaths, and riding toys (58,000 injuries reported in emergency rooms yearly)
  • 4. Climbing on dressers or other furniture, leading to crushing injuries
  • 5. Falling out of open windows, especially those with screens in them
  • 6. Cribs and crib bedding leading to strangulation and suffocation
  • 7. Adult exercise equipment (25,000 emergency room visits yearly)
  • 8. Hot stoves leading to numerous burns and over 600 children a year dying
  • 9. Ingestion of medicines, vitamins, and other pills especially found in grandparents’ homes
  • 10. Ingestion of cleaning supplies, cosmetics, and other household chemicals

Best Practices to Prevent Injuries

• Develop a data and surveillance system to determine the types and frequencies of various injuries in a given area.

  • • Conduct appropriate research on the prevention of these childhood injuries, such as the use of bike helmets, pool fencing and booster seats, and use of smoke alarms.
  • • Establish concussion guidelines for all sports.
  • • Determine best teen driving policies and teach them to the drivers.
  • • Establish a variety of communication processes concerning injury prevention in children and utilize them with targeted populations.
  • • Utilize educational and training techniques to teach people, including professionals, the best way to prevent various types of injuries.
  • • Develop written policies and provide leadership training to prevent injuries.
  • • Create health systems and healthcare practices where the professionals are well trained in a variety of injuries, and the appropriate treatments to be used are identified, and then determine how best to prevent the injuries from reoccurring.
  • • Use child safety seats, booster seats, and seatbelts to prevent injuries.
  • • Establish rules for teenage driving.
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