Injury Prevention

Why it is important to share and act on information about Injury Prevention

Every year, 750,000 children die from injuries. Another 400 million are seriously hurt. Many injuries lead to permanent disability and brain damage. Injuries are a major cause of death and disability among young children.

The most common injuries are falls, burns, drowning and road acci-dents. Most of these injuries happen in or near the home. Almost all can be prevented. Many would be less serious if parents knew what to do when an injury happens.

Key Messages :

What every family and community has a right to know about Injury Prevention

  1. Many serious injuries can be prevented if parents and caretakers watch young children carefully and keep their environment safe.
  2. Children should be kept away from fires, cooking stoves, lamps, matches and electrical appliances.
  3. Young children like to climb. Stairs, balconies, roofs, windows and play areas should be made secure to protect children from falling.
  4. Knives, scissors, sharp or pointed objects and broken glass can cause serious injuries. These objects should be kept out of children's reach.
  5. Young children like to put things in their mouths. Small objects should be kept out of their reach to prevent choking.
  6. Poisons, medicines, bleach, acid, and liquid fuels such as paraffin (kerosene) should never be stored in drinking bottles. All such liquids and poisons should be kept in clearly marked containers out of children's sight and reach.
  7. Children can drown in less than two minutes and in a very small amount of water. They should never be left alone when they are in or near water.
  8. Children under five years old are particularly at risk on the roads.

They should always have someone with them and they should be taught safe road behaviour as soon as they can walk.

Supporting Information Injury Prevention

1. Many serious injuries can be prevented if parents and caretakers watch young children carefully and keep their environment safe.

Children between 18 months and four years old are at high risk of death and serious injuries. Most of these injuries happen in the home. Almost all can be prevented.

The main causes of injuries in the home:

burns from fires, stoves, ovens, cooking pots, hot foods, boiling water, steam, hot fats, paraffin lamps, irons and electrical appliances

cuts from broken glass, knives, scissors or axes

falls from cots, windows, tables and stairs

choking on small objects such as coins, buttons or nuts

poisoning from paraffin (kerosene), insecticide, bleach and detergents

electrical shock from touching broken electrical appliances or wires, or poking sticks or knives into electric outlets.

Anything that may be dangerous for active young children should be stored safely away, out of their reach.

Children should never be expected to work long hours or to do work that is hazardous or interferes with schooling.

Children must be protected from heavy labour, dangerous tools and exposure to poisonous chemicals.

2. Children should be kept away from fires, cooking stoves, lamps, matches and electrical appliances.

Burns and scalds are among the most common causes of serious injury among young children. Children need to be prevented from touching cooking stoves, boiling water, hot food and hot irons.

Burns often cause serious injury and permanent scarring, and some are fatal. The great majority of these are preventable.

Burns can be prevented by:

keeping young children away from fires, matches and cigarettes

keeping stoves on a flat, raised surface out of the reach of children. If an open cooking fire is used, it should be made on a raised mound of clay, not directly on the ground.

turning the handles of all cooking pots away from the reach of children

keeping petrol, paraffin, lamps, matches, candles, lighters, hot irons and electric cords out of the reach of young children.

Children can be seriously injured if they put their fingers or other objects into electric sockets. Power sockets should be covered to prevent access.

Electric wires should be kept out of children's reach. Bare electric wires are particularly dangerous.

3. Young children like to climb. Stairs, balconies, roofs, windows and play areas should be made secure to protect children from falling.

Falls are a common cause of bruises, broken bones and serious head injuries. Serious falls can be prevented by:

discouraging children from climbing onto unsafe places

using railings to guard stairs, windows or balconies

keeping the home clean and well lit.

4. Knives, scissors, sharp or pointed objects and broken glass can cause serious injuries. These objects should be kept out of children's reach.

Broken glass can cause serious cuts, loss of blood and infected wounds. Glass bottles should be kept out of the reach of young children, and the house and play area should be kept free of broken glass. Young children should be taught not to touch broken glass; older children should be taught to dispose of any broken glass safely.

Knives, razors and scissors should be kept out of the reach of young children. Older children should be trained to handle them safely.

Sharp metal objects, machinery and rusty cans can cause badly infected wounds. Children's play areas should be kept clear of these objects. Household refuse, including broken bottles and old cans, should be disposed of safely.

Other injuries around the home can be prevented by teaching children the dangers of throwing stones or other sharp objects and playing with knives or scissors.

5. Young children like to put things in their mouths. Small objects should be kept out of their reach to prevent choking.

Play and sleeping areas should be kept free of small objects such as buttons, beads, coins, seeds and nuts.

Very young children should not be given groundnuts (peanuts), hard sweets, or food with small bones or seeds.

Young children should always be supervised during meals. Cut or tear children's food into small pieces.

Coughing, gagging and high-pitched, noisy breathing or the inability to make any sound at all indicate breathing difficulty and possible choking.

Choking is a life-threatening emergency. Caregivers should suspect an infant is choking when he or she suddenly has trouble breathing, even if no one has seen the child put some-thing into the mouth.

6. Poisons, medicines, bleach, acid, and liquid fuels such as paraffin (kerosene) should never be stored in drinking bottles. All such liquids and poisons should be kept in clearly marked containers out of children's sight and reach.

Poisoning is a serious danger to small children. Bleach, insect and rat poison, paraffin (kerosene) and house-hold detergents can kill or permanently injure a child.

Many poisons do not need to be swallowed to be dangerous. They can kill, cause brain damage, blind or permanently injure if they:

are inhaled

get onto the child's skin or into the eyes

get onto the child's clothes.

If poisons are put in soft drink or beer bottles, jars or cups, children may drink them by mistake. All medicines, chemicals and poisons should be stored in their original containers, tightly sealed.

Detergents, bleaches, chemicals and medicines should never be left where children can reach them. They should be tightly sealed and labelled.

They should also be locked in a cupboard or trunk or put on a high shelf where children cannot see or reach them.

Medicines meant for adults can kill small children. Medicine should only be given to a child if it was prescribed for that child and never be given to a child if it was prescribed for an adult or some other child.

Overuse or misuse of antibiotics can cause deafness in small children. Medication should only be used as prescribed by the health worker.

Aspirin is a common cause of accidental poisoning. It should be kept out of the reach and sight of children.

7. Children can drown in less than two minutes and in a very small amount of water. They should never be left alone when they are in or near water.

Wells, tubs and buckets of water should be covered.

Children should be taught to swim when they are young as they will then be less likely to drown.

Children should be taught never to swim in fast-flowing streams and never to swim alone.

8. Children under five years old are particularly at risk on the roads. They should always have someone with them and they should be taught safe road behaviour as soon as they can walk.

Young children do not think before they run onto the road. Families need to watch them carefully.

Children should not play near the road, particularly if they are playing with balls.

Children should be taught to walk on the side of the road, facing traffic.

When crossing the road, young children should be taught to:

stop at the side of the road

look both ways

listen for cars or other vehicles before crossing

hold the hand of another person

walk, not run.

Older children should be encouraged to look after younger children and to set a good example.

Bicycle accidents are a frequent cause of injury and death among older children. Families can prevent bicycle accidents if they make sure that children with bicycles are trained in road safety. Children should wear helmets or protective headgear when biking.

Children are at high risk of serious injury if they travel in the front seat of a car or unsupervised on the bed of a truck.

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