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Editorial: Prevent kids' injuries

Knowing children are always on the go, it's only natural parents worry about their protection.

The five most common injuries to kids and how to prevent them have been identified by Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. Words of caution may help to avoid unwelcome trauma.

Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury to children. To prevent falls:

  • Always strap small children into swings and strollers.
  • Remember children can fall from windows opened as little as five inches.
  • Never rely on window screens to prevent falls.
  • Never let children play alone on fire escapes, high porches or balconies.
  • Make sure there's a safe surface under playground equipment. Safe surfaces include mulch, pea gravel and shredded rubber at least 9-12 inches deep, and extending at least six feet in all directions around equipment.

    Poisonings are a disastrous experience that are entirely preventable, as follows:

  • Teach children to recognize and avoid poisonous plants like poison ivy, oak and sumac, which can cause an allergic reaction if they come in contact with the skin.
  • Teach children not to eat or touch any plants or flowers without asking a parent first. Many plants such as wild mushrooms and berries might look edible, but are poisonous. Even common garden flowers like azaleas, daffodils and rhododendron are toxic.
  • In the garage, store dangerous chemicals like pesticides, gasoline, lighter fluid and cleaners out of children's reach in a locked cabinet or garden shed.
  • Keep chemicals in their original containers and add a "Mr. Yuk" sticker so children know the product is poisonous.
  • If using pesticides, keep children and pets away from the area until the pesticide has dried or as long as recommended on the label.

    Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children younger than age 17, so:

  • Make sure children have their own car seats, booster seats or safety belts that are appropriate for their ages and sizes.
  • Never let children ages 12 and younger sit in the front seat and never put a child car seat in the front seat.
  • Install child safety seats according to the manufacturer's instructions and have them checked by a certified child passenger safety technician.
  • Obey Wisconsin law--children younger than age four must be in a child car seat. Children ages four to eight need to be in a booster seat.
  • When driving, stay aware and watch for children playing outside.

    Because burns can be highly traumatic, take these steps:

  • Teach children the dangers of fire pits. Fire pits and grills can stay hot enough to cause burns for up to 24 hours.
  • Never leave a fire unattended or children alone by a fire, not even for a minute.
  • Encourage children to wear shoes outdoors and avoid walking on hot asphalt or hot sand.
  • Make sure children use a sun block whenever they are in the sun. Children need to wear a sun block with an SPF of at least 15.

    Bike accidents may be averted by keeping these advisories in mind:

  • Make sure children always wear helmets and they fit properly. If helmets are too loose, they're not protecting the head.
  • Teach children the rules of the road and make sure they obey all traffic laws.
  • Most fatal accidents occur at dusk and at night. Children should not ride a bike at dusk or at night. If a child is still outside when it turns dark, a bicycle light should be used and the child should be wearing light-colored clothing.
  • Be a role model; always wear a helmet when riding a bike.

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