It’s natural for children to fall down frequently, and they usually get back up in the same condition as before they fell.
On the other hand, falls are the number one cause of non-fatal injuries for children under 19. This is no surprise for most parents. After all, you’re caring for babies unable to control their movements, toddlers who wobble, and teens who take risks.
You can help keep your sons and daughters from becoming one of the 8,000 children who visit emergency rooms each day after taking a spill. Study these tips for preventing and treating injuries from falls.
Preventing Falls at Home
Most falls occur at home. Take steps to make your living environment safer indoors and out:
Provide supervision. Keep a close eye on your child, especially when they’re a baby or starting to walk. Babies need constant attention when they’re near bathtubs or anyplace above the floor.
Check your windows. Windows require special attention. Use window guards or lock them. Arrange furniture away from windows, glass doors, and balconies to reduce the temptation for children to climb on them.
Use safety devices. Block off stairs with sliding gates and teach your child to hold the banister. Secure the straps that come with equipment like high chairs and strollers, as well as shopping carts.
Avoid baby walkers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against baby walkers. They can tip over and increase the risk of broken bones and head injuries.
Preventing Falls Away From Home
Children can also get hurt at schools, playgrounds, and other places that are part of their daily lives. Watch for these common risks:
Pick your playgrounds. Look for playgrounds with soft surfaces like wood chips and rubber that will absorb shocks. At the same time, teach your children to use swings and slides safely.
Prepare for uneven surfaces. Even if your toddler is becoming steady on their feet at home, other territory can be more challenging. You may need to give them a hand on hills or snow.
Play sports safely. Require children of any age to use the appropriate safety gear for their activities. That includes helmets for cycling and football.
Talk with your school. Let your school know if you see any conditions that raise concerns. Are there entry carpets on wet days to minimize tracking in rain and snow? Does the cafeteria clean up spilled food and drinks promptly?
Treating Injuries from Falls
While you’re eliminating the major hazards, keep in mind that toppling over can often be beneficial. It shows that your child is curious and active. Take these steps when your child takes a tumble:
Offer comfort. Most falls will require little more than a kiss and a few kind words. You can also check for any physical injuries while you’re soothing their feelings.
Apply ice. Cold temperatures are usually the safest remedy for more serious bumps and bruises. Keep a cold compress and ice pack handy to reduce swelling and discomfort.
Use pain relievers. Talk with your doctor if your child needs something more. They may recommend over the counter drugs such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen for older children.
Watch for unusual symptoms. Observe children carefully for 24 hours after any serious fall. Seek medical care if you notice symptoms like excessive sleepiness, vomiting or pain in the head, neck, or back.
Call 911. Occasionally, a fall demands immediate medical attention. Call 911 or go to an emergency room if your child loses consciousness, has trouble breathing, or complains about serious pain.
Let your child enjoy growing up even if that means falling down on a regular basis. Meanwhile, you can reduce the risk of major injuries by taking appropriate precautions and knowing when to seek medical care.