DENVER — There’s nothing worse for a parent that losing a child or having a child get seriously injured. But it happens every day. In fact, some experts say 2.5 million children are injured in their own homes each year. Many of those injuries could be prevented.
At Children’s Hospital Colorado, they offer free advice and free car seat installation. Susan Yates is Children’s Prevention Education Coordinator.
“Our goal is to keep the kids out of the hospital,” she said. “Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for children after the age of one.. leading killer and injury. We understand that parents get frustrated which is why we offer a service here at Childrens where we will help parents install their car seats for free.”
Experts say newborns and infants should ride facing the back of the car for as long as possible. The seat should be strapped in tight and the straps by the baby’s shoulders should be snug enough that you can’t pinch any slack.
Aside from a properly installed car seat, Yates said parents cannot let kids have their way if they don’t want to ride in a car seat.
“Enforce that car seat safety is not negotiable,” she said. “So if they want to put up a fight about it, then the car doesn’t move. It’s terribly frustrating, I’ve experienced it myself. But after a couple days of reinforcing that and pulling over to the side of the road or not starting the car, they learn really quickly and that helps reinforce that safety is not negotiable and this is a battle that parents need to win.”
Then there is sleep safety. Doctor Ann Halbower is trying to get the message to parents: NEVER sleep with a baby in your bed.
“We want the baby in a safe sleep space next to your bed,” she said. “The actual rate of accidental suffocation in Colorado is actually going up.”
She also says in their crib, take out the blankets, pillows and stuffed animals.
“Infants, as you know, are helpless. They can’t move out of a dangerous situation, they can’t take a blanket away from their face.”
And make sure newborns sleep on their backs.
Dr. Halbower explained, “When I was a little kid, my mother was told to put me on my stomach, she was told to turn up the heat and told to wrap me up, and that’s actually dangerous. We’re telling people to unwrap baby, don’t put anything on their heads, cool the house down.” And this has an extra benefit aside from keeping baby safe. She said, “It’s actually easier to save a lot of money, don’t buy the quilts, don’t buy the pillows , don’t buy crib bumpers.”
Another growing problem: Kids swallowing button batteries found in cards, toys and key chains.
“It’s both a choking hazard and even bigger than that,” Susan Yates said. “If it gets lodged in their stomach or throat or if they swallow it , it can actually burn through their esophagus.”
She says Children’s Hospital has seen cases of children being seriously injured after putting these batteries in their mouths and swallowing them.
Bath time presents some challenges. The best advice is to keep your hands on your baby and definitely keep your eyes on them. And turn down your water heater to 120 degrees to avoid any chance of scalding.