||Dr. Al Sacchetti, emergency physician at our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, New Jersey
Approximately 4.5 million children are injured by hazards in the home each year. The good news is emergency care of children is far advanced today. For example, in the past 20 years many improvements have occurred within the health care system: the establishment of a national poison control system; guidelines and policy have been established related to emergency medical residency training in pediatric emergencies; there is now pediatric trauma care available, pain management for children, pediatric drug dosages, and pediatric equipment and supplies in emergency departments and on ambulances.
Thanks in part to these advances in emergency medicine, unintentional injury deaths among children ages 14 and under have declined dramatically. Other contributors to the decline include seat belt and child safety seat laws, child safety caps on prescription and over-the-counter medications, automobile window guards, and child-safety awareness programs on topics ranging from poison prevention to the use of bicycle helmets and sports safety gear.
Of course, the most influential factor when it comes to childhood safety is parental guidance and supervision. Parents should teach their children about safety at home, at school, on the playground and while traveling. In addition, parents and other caregivers should learn to recognize the warning signs and symptoms of serious childhood injuries and illnesses, and become proficient at life-saving techniques, such as the Heimlich Maneuver and CPR. Additionally, children with special medical conditions, such as diabetes or asthma, should always wear medical jewelry such as MedicAlert identification.