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Hidden Hazards - Why Kids are at Risk
Children are at risk from hidden hazards due to their curiosity, tendency to put things in their mouths and their size. Lack of supervision increases the risk for some of these hazards. Some hazards result from activity that comes naturally to children. Others result from products that just don’t mix with kids. Some of the most common hidden hazards include:
- Aerosolized Cans - An estimated 2,180 children ages 14 and under were treated in emergency rooms for aerosol container-related injuries.
- All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV’s) are three or four-wheeled motorized machines that are specifically designed for off-road travel. In 2002, at least 44 children, ages 14 and under died and nearly 30,300 were treated in emergency rooms for ATV-related injuries. Never allow children under the age of 14 to operate adult-sized ATV’s, snowmobiles or tractors.
- Automobile Heat-Related Deaths - When the outside temperature is 93 degrees, even with a window cracked, the temperature inside a car can reach 125 degrees in just 20 minutes. In these extreme conditions, children can die or suffer permanent disability quickly. Heat-related deaths often occur when caregivers leave children alone in a vehicle, or when children playing climb into unlocked cars and can’t get out.
- Bleacher Falls - At least four children have died from bleacher-related falls since 1988. In 2001, more than 10,500 children, ages 14 and under were treated in emergency rooms for bleacher-related injuries. The majority of these injuries and deaths were due to falls.
- Bunk Beds - In 2001, nearly 35,000 children, ages 14 and under were treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to bunk beds. Children are injured due to falls, entrapment in guard rails and suffocation, due to falling mattresses or foundations. It is estimated that 10 children die each year after becoming trapped in bunk beds.
- Fireworks - Fireworks displays hosted by professionals are a safe and festive way to celebrate a holiday. However, more than 4,700 children, ages 14 and under were treated in emergency rooms in 2001 for injuries from fireworks activities. Illegal fireworks aren’t the only danger-firecrackers, rockets and sparklers, legal in many states, cause the bulk of emergency room visits.
- Lawn Mowers - Each year more than 8,300 children under the age of 14 were seen in emergency rooms for lawnmower-related injuries. About one-fourth of these injuries occur to children under the age of five.
- Pool Drains - Spending time in a pool, whirlpool, spa, or hot tub can be great fun for kids. However, the strong suction caused by drains can cause serious injury or drowning when hair or body parts become trapped. Since 1985 at least 36 people have died and 111 have been seriously injured, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Shopping Cart Injuries - In 1999, nearly 23,600 children were treated in emergency rooms for injuries associated with shopping carts. Children, ages 4 and under accounted for the majority of these injuries. Children can suffer cuts, bruises, fractures, concussions and even internal injuries, when they jump or fall from a shopping cart, the cart overturns, they get pinched in the folding mechanism, or they fall against or are hit by a cart.
- Sledding - Nearly 14,900 children, ages 5 to 14 were treated in emergency rooms in 2001 for injuries related to sledding. Children are especially at risk when not sledding on open terrain or when equipment is not inspected for wear or breakage.
- Trunk Entrapment - At least 19 children have died from unintentional trunk entrapment since July 1987. All children involved were younger than 6. Unintentional entrapments typically occur during children’s games or exploration, or while retrieving items from the trunk. Heat stroke is the most common cause of death associated with unintentional trunk entrapment.
- Wired Glass - Wired glass is commonly used in windows and doors of schools and recreation centers where fire-rated glass is required. While wired glass protects against fire, it is only about half as strong as ordinary glass, and can be extremely dangerous upon impact. Many children have suffered serious injuries from the shattered glass and exposed wires, including permanent nerve damage and amputations.
- Other Hidden Hazards - Clothing with drawstrings, window-covering cords, cleaning or other buckets, water hazards, latex balloons, open window falls and used cribs or car seats.
Keep Kids Safe in the Yard this Summer
Each summer, homeowners use their lawn mowers, tractors and hedge trimmers to maintain their green spaces. However, many do not realize the potential dangers associated with outdoor power equipment use, especially the potential risks of injury that the equipment poses to young children. Most of the injuries can be prevented by using simple and sensible supervision.
- Keep children away from any work area in which any type of walk-behind, riding, or hand-held outdoor power equipment is being used.
- The best place for a child during the time a piece of outdoor power equipment is being used is in the house.
- If any child enters a work area, immediately turn off any power equipment that is in use.
- Do not allow a child to operate or play with any type of outdoor power equipment, even when it is not in use. Only allow responsible adults who are familiar with the equipment to operate it.
- Store the ignition keys to power outdoor equipment away from the equipment itself when it is not in use.
- Riding mowers should never carry passengers, especially children, or tow trailers carrying children.
- Clear the work area of any objects such as twigs, stones and toys that could be picked up and thrown by the lawn mower blades or other apparatus.
- Always look down and behind for children before and while backing up.