According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), injuries are the leading cause of death and disability for individuals through 44 years of age. Additionally, 20 children die from preventable injuries every day, resulting in more deaths than all other diseases combined according to Injury Free Coalition for Kids.
“With the pandemic, we saw an increase in traumatic injuries,” said Sandra McKay MD, Associate Professor of pediatrics at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston and pediatrician affiliated with Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. “Specifically, we saw increases related to burns, firearms and ATVs. We also continue to see infant deaths related to unsafe sleep environments. While we have much work to do to improve these statistics, the good news is these injuries are mostly preventable – the key is education. It involves knowing the risks inside your home and community and working to eliminate them.”
Education and prevention is so important and that’s why Memorial Hermann has partnered with Injury Free Coalition for Kids and other top Injury Prevention Organizations to elevate the conversation and commemorate National Injury Prevention Day on Nov. 18. Memorial Hermann will work to educate families and community leaders about ways to develop safer environments and provide many with the tools to do so.
Educational outreach will focus on safe sleep and ATV, firearm, and burn safety:
Sleep related infant death accounted for nearly one out of three child deaths in Harris County in the last decade. For infants, caregivers should think of safe sleep in terms of the ABCs: Alone (no blankets, stuffed animals, or pillows), on their back, and in their crib (no co-sleeping).
During the pandemic, Memorial Hermann trauma centers experienced a significant increase in ATV related injuries. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of 16 not ride on ATVs, however, if parents choose to allow their children on ATVs, they should directly supervise them at all times. Additionally, properly fitted helmets should be worn every time, no matter what.
More than four million children in the U.S. are living in a home with a firearm that is loaded and unlocked. Parents should always store the firearm unloaded, locked, and with the ammunition separate from the firearm. It is important for parents of young children to lock up their guns to keep them away from curious children.
Burns can be caused by fires as well as from scalds from hot water. Avoid splash burns by keeping hot liquids away from small children and infants (keeping coffee cups away from counter edges) and setting the hot water heater to 120 degree F or less.
To help families put this safety advice into practice, Children’s Memorial Hermann and UTHealth Houston will distribute home safety kits to new parents at UT Physicians Pediatric Primary Care clinic while supplies last. Sponsored in part by Juvenile Products and Manufacturers Association (JPMA), the home safety kits include infant sleep sacks, water thermometers, cabinet locks, babysitter notepads, safety booklets, and a wealth of information on safety.
Other initiatives planned for Nov. 18 include a live national conversation at 12 p.m. CST about the country’s top injury and violence concerns during a one-hour Twitter chat using the hashtag #BeInjuryFree. Additionally, as the sun goes down that day, hospitals, landmarks, businesses, and neighborhoods have been asked to shine a green light on injury prevention to raise awareness about the need for change. Several Memorial Hermann campuses will be participating.
For more information, visit Injury Prevention Resources: Memorial Hermann Trauma, Injury Free Coalition for Kids, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Safe Kids Worldwide, Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, Healthy Children and Injury Free UTHealth.