Keeping Kids Safe In The New Year

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kidsSpectrum Health Announces Top 10 Household Dangers for Children

Spectrum Health’s Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is thinking ahead to keep kids safe in the New Year.

Jennifer Hoekstra, Injury Prevention program coordinator with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, has put together a list of the “Top 10” safety concerns that families should consider to keep their children safe.

“These are the most common dangers to children that parents always need to remember – and not just with the start of a new year,” explained Hoekstra. “It’s an important reminder for this time of year, however, because everyone is busier than normal with the holidays, maybe with different routines, visiting friends and family. It’s easy to get lulled into forgetting to check for a safe environment.”

In the favored style of late night television hosts, Hoekstra works her way up the “Top 10” list:

10. TV Tip-Over

Once every three weeks, a child in the United States dies after being hit and hurt by a unsecured television set that tips over. Nearly 13,000 children are injured each year by falling TVs. Parents are urged to strap or bolt all TVs and heavy furniture to the wall to prevent them from tipping and falling.

9. Bicycle Injuries

Bicycles are associated with more childhood injuries than any other consumer product except automobiles. Bicycle injuries jump significantly during the summer; the death rate jumps nearly 45 percent higher than the non-summer monthly average. A helmet is the single most effective safety device for reducing the severity of head injuries and the likelihood of death following a bicycle crash.

8. Distracted Pedestrians

In a recent report done by Safe Kids Worldwide, one in five high school students and one in eight middle school students were observed crossing the street distracted. Students were most often texting on a phone (39 percent) or using headphones (39 percent). Distraction while crossing the street is a serious problem that many parents don’t think about.

7. Water Dangers

The risk of drowning increases more in the summer than any other unintentional injury – 89 percent over the rest of the year – because more children are playing in pools and in open bodies of water. Drowning can happen so quickly. It is critical that parents actively supervise young children and those who do not swim well in every body of water.

6. Unsafe Sleep Practices

The results of placing a baby younger than one year in an unsafe sleeping environment can be deadly. Parents are encouraged to remember the “ABC’s” of safe sleep: babies should sleep alone (A) – no blankets, pillows, or other people – on their back (B) and in a crib (C) with a tight fitting sheet.

5. Medication Safety

Every parent knows to keep medicine up and away from children, but kids are still getting into medicine at an alarming rate with 500,000 calls to poison control centers last year alone. Medications are the leading cause of child poisoning. Every year, more than 67,000 children go to an emergency room for medicine poisoning. That’s one child every eight minutes.

4. Button Batteries

Each year in the United States, more than 2,800 kids are treated in emergency rooms after swallowing button batteries. That’s one child every three hours. The number of serious injuries or deaths as a result of button batteries has increased ninefold in the last decade. Keep coin lithium battery-controlled devices out of sight and reach of children. Remote controls, singing greeting cards, digital scales, watches, hearing aids, thermometers, children’s toys, calculators, key fobs, tealight candles, flashing holiday jewelry and decorations all contain button batteries.

twokidsun3. Protecting Young Athletes

Many coaches and parents don’t understand how much rest young athletes need from sports, how much water kids should drink during sports/play or the signs of a concussion. Sports injuries make up 20 percent of all injury-related emergency department visits for children ages 6-19. Last year, 163,670 children were seen in emergency departments for sports-related concussions – that’s one child every three minutes.

2. Improper Car Seat Use and Installation

Properly used, child safety seats decrease the risk of death by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers. It is very important for parents to take time to read both the instructions for their child’s car seat and for their vehicles in order to use the child’s car seat properly. Other issues surrounding children who are in and around the vehicle are also big risks for kids. Parents are reminded to never leave their children alone in the vehicle and never allow kids to play in the trunk of the car.

And, finally, the top concern for parents:

1. Falls

Unintentional falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for children in the United States. In 2010, unintentional falls resulted in nearly 3 million injuries requiring treatment in an emergency room. These injuries resulted from activities such as climbing on furniture, playing near an unsecured window, falling down stairs or playing on playgrounds.

– For more information about the Safe Kids program at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, visit

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system, based in West Michigan, offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of 11 hospitals including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital; 173 ambulatory and service sites; 960 advanced practice providers and employed physicians including members of the Spectrum Health Medical Group and West Michigan Heart physician groups; and Priority Health, a health plan. Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer with 20,800 employees. The organization provided $250 million in community benefit during its 2013 fiscal year.

– Submitted by Angela Zito