Protect Keiki From Falls
When it comes to keeping your kids safe, you might think about things like making sure they’re in a car seat, or staying close when they play in the surf. But what about window guards?
Many parents are surprised to learn that falling is the top cause of pediatric injuries that lead to ER visits in Maui County, more than any other cause of injury, including car accidents.
We often think about our kupuna as being at risk from falls, but we forget that falls can also be dangerous for kids. Young keiki 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.
There is no height limit that is considered “safe” for falls. Instead, you should know that generally, the risk for injury increases as the fall gets higher and/or the surface they fall onto gets harder.
One of the biggest areas of concern is windows. Any time a child falls out a window, there is the potential for serious injury. Remember that screens are meant to keep bugs out, not keiki in. Screens are not weight-bearing, so any time you have a window that a child can reach, take precautions to keep them safe. Move furniture away from windows, install window guards, or place a window jam so that your child cannot open it enough to climb or fall out. Teach your children to never play near windows; even older children who you think might know better should be reminded.
Another common cause of pediatric fall injuries is shopping carts. Even though shopping carts don’t seem very high off the ground, they are often used on hard surfaces, like a concrete floor or an asphalt parking lot. So when children fall out and hit their heads, it can cause serious injury.
The good news is that taking simple precautions can significantly reduce the risk of dangerous falls. In addition to window safety measures mentioned above, look for other high-risk fall locations in your home and other homes your children frequently visit. Add padding or soft rugs on surfaces where children are likely to fall, like at the bottom of stairs or around beds. Keep kids safe in shopping carts and highchairs by strapping them in with seat belts and always keeping them within your line of sight. 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 and help them stay healthy and safe. For more tips to keep your keiki safe, visit mauihealth.org/safekeiki.