When it comes to keeping your keiki safe, you might think about things like car seats, sharp objects or ocean safety.
But did you know that falling is the top cause of pediatric injuries that lead to ER visits in Maui County?
We know our kupuna are at risk from falls, but we forget that falls can also be dangerous for kids. Young children are top-heavy – they have big heads – so they are more likely than adults to fall headfirst. This can cause concussions or other serious head injuries.
The risk of injury from a fall generally increases as the fall gets higher and/or the surface they fall onto gets harder.
One of the biggest areas of concern is windows. Remember that screens are not weight-bearing and are meant to keep bugs out, not keiki in. To keep children safe, move furniture away from windows and install window guards or jams to prevent children from being able to open them enough to fall out. Teach your children never to play around windows.
Other common causes of pediatric fall injuries are shopping carts and highchairs. Even though they don’t seem very high off the ground, they are often used on hard surfaces, so when children fall out and hit their heads, it can cause serious injury. Keep kids safe by strapping them in and always keeping them within your line of sight.
Look for other high-risk fall locations in your home and other homes your children frequently visit. Add soft rugs on surfaces where children are likely to fall, like at the bottom of stairs or around beds. Discourage children from climbing anything taller than them and teach them why this is dangerous.
If a child does fall, and the fall was significant, they should see a doctor. Look for signs of head injury, including headache, nausea, dizziness, confusion, sleepiness, vision problems, and difficulty walking or talking. Symptoms may start right away, but sometimes they show up hours or days after the injury.
Any time a child loses consciousness after a head injury they should get medical attention. But if they have trouble waking back up, or if they pass out hours or days after the original injury, that is a possible sign of bleeding in the brain, and it is an emergency. Call 911 and seek immediate help.
Falls can be dangerous for children, but there are things you can do to reduce the risk. By taking precautions, and knowing the signs of serious injury, you can protect your keiki from traumatic injury. For more information on keiki fall safety, visit mauihealth.org/keikifalls.
By Cameron Rogers, Trauma Injury Prevention & Outreach Coordinator