Child Injury

By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.

Injuries are the number one cause of death for children and adolescents ages 1 to 21. Nearly 362,000 children annually are treated in emergency departments throughout the United States with bicycling injuries and one-third of the visits are head injuries. There are important steps for parents, pediatricians, and communities to take to keep injuries from happening. When an injury does occur, quick action to give appropriate first aid can reduce the consequences of the injury.

When children begin crawling, or eating table foods, parents must be aware of the dangers and risks of choking. Young children often choke on food as well as small household items. You can help ensure a safe environment by keeping those items away from infants and young children. In addition to creating a safe environment for your child, it is important to learn basic life support skills such as CPR and first aid.

Almost all children bump their heads every now and then. While these injuries can be upsetting, most head injuries are minor and do not cause serious problems. For anything more than a light bump on the head or if your child loses consciousness, you should call your pediatrician.

Another common injury in children is burns. Remember to call your pediatrician if your child suffers anything more than a minor burn. All electrical burns and any burn on the hand, foot, face or genitals should receive medical attention right away. Until help arrives, cool the burnt area with cool running water (for 1st and 2nd degree burns) or with a wet sterile dressing (for 3rd degree burns). Never use ice on burns or rub the area. Remove the burned clothing so that it does not get stuck to the skin. After the burn has cooled, apply a clean, dry gauze pad to the burned area. Do not break any blisters. This could allow germs into the wound. Keep the person's body temperature normal. Cover unburned areas with a dry blanket.

If a severe injury is threatening a child’s health or might cause permanent harm, he/she needs immediate medical treatment.

Many emergencies involve sudden injuries. These injuries often are caused by the following:

  • Bicycle or car crashes
  • Falls
  • Burns or smoke inhalation
  • Choking
  • Near drowning
  • Firearms or other weapons
  • Electric shocks
  • Poisoning

You must call your local Poison Center at once if your child has swallowed a suspected poison or another person's medication, even if your child has no signs or symptoms.

Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center,