“The Indian Association of Pediatric Surgeons has chosen to help the parents and caregivers to keep the children safe not only at home but also on roads and schools. Home is supposed to be the safest place but unfortunately, 70% of the accidents and injuries occur at home due to negligence or ignorance of the caregivers,” Dr Manjiri Somashekhar, paediatric surgery, Manipal Hospital Malleshwaram. She shares tips on ensuring child safety and dealing with injury:
An injury can be classified as
Unintentional injuries.: Sudden exposure to heat, chemicals, electric current, radiation, etc.; road accidents, drowning, sports, injuries, animal bites, frostbites, burns or falls. These injuries are categorised as unintentional injuries and are the leading causes of death in children.
Intentional injuries: These include injuries that result from sexual abuse (molestation, or rape), bullying, violence, assault, etc. These injuries are mostly not reported due to legal problems and social stigma attached to them.
Based on the body part affected. eg., head injuries, leg injuries, etc. Injuries can also be categorised based on the causes, place of occurrence, etc.
Injuries in children can be predicted and prevented
With a little care, most injuries can be prevented by:
Safe mode of transport to school. Road accidents are one of the most common causes of injuries in children. The use of school buses to travel to school is considered the safest mode of transport for children compared to cycling or walking to school. Ensure the safety of school buses by:
- Painting them yellow.
- School names and phone numbers should be written on them.
- Speed governors, horizontal grilles, and safety locks for the doors should be installed.
- School buses should be equipped with CCTV surveillance, a first aid box, and a fire extinguisher.
- Employ a well-experienced driver with a valid driving licence.
- A qualified and trained attendee should always be present on the bus to attend to children.
- Safe school environment. Schools should provide safe infrastructure, laboratories, playgrounds, staircases, etc. All the areas should be monitored by supervisors and equipped with fire detectors, fire extinguishers, CCTV surveillance, etc. First aid training should be provided for all the teachers and other staff.
- Safe home environment. Most children aged 0 – 5 years are commonly injured at home either by poisoning, drowning, falling or by burns. These injuries have fatal consequences which can be predicted and prevented.
Parents and caregivers need to:
Keep emergency numbers handy in case of emergencies.
Learn how to perform CPR and basic first-aid techniques.
Always keep a first aid kit handy.
While changing your baby’s clothes, keep nappies, clothes, etc., handy.
Never leave children unattended.
Supervise children at all times, especially when they are around dogs or cats, while using the bathroom, on stairs, terraces, and on balconies.
Use plug protectors to prevent electric shocks
Unplug electrical appliances when not in use.
Keep the drawers strapped with safety locks.
Keep away small toys or objects that can increase the risk of choking.
Keep buckets and bathing tubs empty to prevent the risk of drowning.
Keep firearms like guns, and sharp objects like knives, needles, and pens away from children.
Keep hot pans and pots away from children.
Keep detergents, medicines, cleaners, mosquito repellents, and pesticides away from children as these are common sources of poisoning.
Install fire detectors and keep fire extinguishers handy.
Ensure your child is well-equipped with safety gear like helmets, knee pads, wrist guards, elbow pads, etc., while playing sports, cycling, skating, or other outdoor activities.
Avoid giving small loose parts of toys or nuts directly to the child they may aspirate into the breathing passage and choking.
What should a parent/caregiver/public do when a child is injured?
For bleeding wounds, animal bites, etc.,
- In case of bleeding, apply pressure on that area with a clean towel until the bleeding stops.
- After the bleeding stops, clean the wound with water, dry with cotton, apply antiseptic cream and cover with a sterile bandage.
- Consult your doctor for a tetanus shot, rabies shot, risk of infections, etc.
- For burns from hot liquids, electric current, chemicals, etc.,
- If the burns cover a larger part of the body consult your doctor immediately.
- For superficial burns, run cool water over the burnt area, and apply aloe vera gel or a Burnol cream.
If a child is unconscious, or conscious but cannot breathe, or talk, or is turning blue, rush to a nearby doctor immediately.
If a child can breathe, avoid grabbing the object from the throat or patting on the back. The child is most likely to recover after coughing for some time.
(The writer is Consultant – Paediatric Surgery, Manipal Hospital Malleshwaram)
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