Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education website.
Information from Your Family Doctor
Preventing Injuries: How Can I Keep My Child Safe?
Am Fam Physician. 2013 Apr 1;87(7):online.
See related article on prevention of unintentional childhood injury.
Use a car seat or booster until your child can properly fit in a seat belt, usually between nine and 12 years of age. Children should sit in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
Never drive after drinking alcohol or taking drugs.
Focus on the road, and don't text and drive. Even hands-free phones increase the risk of a crash.
Parent resource: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (http://www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS)
Call the National Capital Poison Center (1-800-222-1222) or 911 immediately if you think your child has swallowed something that could be dangerous.
Don't give your child syrup of ipecac.
Parent resource: National Capital Poison Center (http://www.poison.org)
Place children younger than one year on their backs to sleep.
Make sure cribs and child beds meet the latest safety guidelines and are put together correctly.
Use the correct size mattress for your child's crib. Use sheets that fit tightly.
Remove objects from beds and play areas that could strangle or trap your child, like cords and strings.
Parent resource: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission crib guidelines (http://www.cpsc.gov/info/cribs/index.html)
A fence that blocks the pool from the rest of the yard is best.
Stay in the water and close enough to touch your child whenever he or she is swimming.
Use only flotation devices that are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Many armbands and rings are not meant to keep your child from drowning.
Always have a phone by the pool so you can call 911 in an emergency.
Enroll your child in swimming lessons at four years old.
Learn CPR in case your child stops breathing.
Parent resource: U.S. Coast Guard recommendations for choosing a flotation device (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg5214/pfdselection.asp#selection)
Install smoke detectors and check them regularly to make sure they are working.
Make a home fire escape plan. Practice with your family so that your child knows what to do if a fire happens.
Don't keep matches and lighters where children can reach them.
Don't smoke or allow others to smoke in your house.
Don't let your child use a walker unless your doctor recommends it for special needs.
Don't use bunk beds for children six years and younger.
Be sure children wear helmets for activities like bicycling, skating, and skiing.
Be a good example by using helmets and safety equipment yourself.
Parent resource: FamilyDoctor.org (https://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/exercise-fitness/sports-safety/bike-safety-tips.html)
Where can I get more information?
AAFP's Patient Education Resource
Safe Kids USA
This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at http://familydoctor.org.
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.
Copyright © 2013 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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