Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

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Am Fam Physician. 2006;74(11):1870

See related article on preventing childhood injuries.

What are the most common causes of injury in school-age children and teenagers?

The most common causes of injuries in this age group are car crashes, bicycle crashes, and fires.

How can I prevent injuries from car crashes?

Always make sure your child wears a seat belt. Children who weigh between 40 and 80 lb should ride in booster seats and wear lap and shoulder belts. Wearing a seat belt without using a booster seat won’t fully protect a child this size in a crash. A seat belt fits correctly when it is low and snug on the hips and the shoulder belt does not cross the face or neck. Children younger than 12 years should always ride in the back seat, especially in vehicles with airbags.

If you have a teenager who drives, set safety rules, especially in the first year. Driving at night and driving with other teenagers in the car are especially risky. Consider limiting your teenager’s driving time to daylight hours only, and allow only one other teenager to be in the car.

What about bicycle safety?

Children should always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Do not let young children ride a bicycle in the street.

What else can I do to keep my child safe?

Never let your child play in or near a street. If you have a young child, teach him or her to always stop at the curb and to never cross the street without an adult. Remind older children to stop at the curb and check for traffic before crossing the street.

Keep a smoke alarm in your home and change the batteries twice a year. Keep all matches and cigarette lighters out of reach and out of sight of children.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor

American Academy of Family Physicians

American Academy of Pediatrics Injury Prevention Program


Safe Kids Worldwide

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