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Car Crashes, Falls Biggest Threats To Kids

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Thirty-three kids across the country die every day from an injury, according to a new report released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the data show Utah is doing fairly well preventing injury deaths when compared to the rest of the country, motor vehicle crashes and falls continue to injure and kill hundreds of Utah children each year.

“Parents may not even realize the risks their children face every day,” said Christi Fisher, Safe Kids Utah Coordinator and a health educator with the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Violence and Injury Prevention Program (VIPP). “And while many see injuries as just part of growing up, there’s plenty of research that proves injuries are preventable.”

UDOH data show that, from 2003-2007, motor vehicle crashes were the number one killer of Utah children ages birth through 18. Suffocation, firearms, drowning, and poisoning round out the top five. Infants were at greatest risk for suffocation, often due to unsafe sleep practices. Toddlers were at greatest risk of being backed over by a motor vehicle or drowning after wandering away from caretakers. For teens, motor vehicle crashes and drug overdoses were major causes of injury deaths.

“We want every child to grow up healthy and live to their fullest potential,” said Trisha Keller, VIPP Program Manager. “This report is a wake-up call to protect the ones we love because there is still much we can do to prevent injuries and deaths.”

The report also highlights falls as the number one cause of non-fatal injury among children. In 2006 alone, there were 22,400 emergency department visits due to falls among Utah children. Pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and burns also send thousands of children to hospitals every year. The estimated cost of child injuries across the United States is about $300 billion a year.

Parents can help keep their kids injury-free by making safe decisions like:

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• Using seat belts, child safety seats, and booster seats as appropriate for the child’s age and weight.

• Obeying the law by keeping children in booster seats until age 8. It’s even safer to keep them in boosters until they’re 4 feet 9 inches tall, no matter their age.

• Signing an agreement with teen drivers to limit risky driving situations like carrying multiple passengers and driving at night.

• Having children wear a helmet, wrist guards, and knee and elbow pads when riding a bike or playing active sports.

• Supervising young children at all times, especially around water (like swimming pools and, lakes, streams, or reservoirs) and fall hazards (like stairs and playground equipment).

• Following label directions and reading all warnings when giving medicines to children.

• Storing medicines and toxic products in locked cabinets.