5 Common Home Injuries In Children And How To Prevent Them

Do you know that there are hidden dangers for your child inside your home? Read about these common home injuries and ways to treat them.

By Dr Mohammed Shakeel

5 Common Home Injuries In Children And How To Prevent Them

Parents often worry about the safety of their children outside the home. Most of them keep a close watch when their little ones are playing in the playground or park, lest they sustain an injury. But, what about the dangers lurking in the corners of the house? Take a typical scenario — you are engrossed in watching television while your toddler is playing with toys on the bed. He turns and falls down. It is just a matter of minutes, but your child could get seriously injured. Despite your best efforts to protect him from all dangers, accidents are waiting to happen in your home.

A study titled, 'An epidemiological study on home injuries among children of 0–14 years in South Delhi', by Bhuvaneswari N et al, was published in the Indian Journal of Public Health in January 2018. The study, conducted in 2015, reveals that in the preceding year, the prevalence of home injury in children was around 40 per cent and it was higher in the age group of 1–3 years (54.3%) followed by 5–10 years (45.1%). The most common type of home injury was falls (59.5%) followed by injury with sharp objects and burns.

Toddlers and preschoolers are rarely aware of their surroundings and may be oblivious to the potential dangers inside the house. So, the responsibility lies with the parents to identify such risks and safeguard their little ones in the confines of their home. 

5 common home injuries and how you can deal with them:  

1. Falling

Falls are the most common accidents that occur around the house. Children in the age group of 1–3 years are more likely to fall from the bed and down the stairs. However, not all falls are bad. There is no need to worry if your child's behaviour is normal after an hour of the fall. These mishaps may occur because of the unstable gait of a toddler and a lack of childproofing measures indoors. 

Prevention:

  • Avoid any obstructions or toys on the floor.  
  • Guide your baby when she is learning to walk.
  • Keep a watch on your little one.  
  • Let the floor be always dry.
  • Ensure that the rails of the baby cot are secure. 
  • Make sure there are pillows around the baby when she is sleeping on a regular bed.
  • Always use a secure safety harness in a pram or high chair.
  • Put grilles and nets on windows and doors to prevent falls. Lock doors to avoid children getting hurt.
  • Avoid placing chairs or stools next to a window or balcony, as your child may climb onto them.

First aid:

  • Clean the cuts, scrapes and bruises sustained from a fall with water and antiseptic liquid, and compress them to stop blood flow.
  • Dress minor wounds with a healing plaster.
  • Seek immediate medical attention for serious head injuries.

2. Jamming finger in the door frame

This is a common injury that occurs in the house or inside a car. It can lead to severe pain, swelling, bruising, skin discolouration and loss of sensation in the fingertip. This occurs when the  child accidentally gets her fingers caught in a door or fails to remove them from between the door frame and the door, before someone bangs it shut.

Prevention:

  • Lock the doors when not using a room.
  • Use door stoppers whenever necessary.
  • Warn your child against putting her finger in the gap between the door and its frame.

First aid:

  • If the fingertip is bleeding, wash it with water and cover with a soft and clean cloth.
  • Apply an ice pack to relieve pain and swelling.
  • If the child's finger does not have excessive swelling or pain, allow it to heal on its own.
  • If the pain increases or there is discolouration, swelling, bleeding or fever within two days of injury, consult a doctor.
  • Seek immediate medical care for exposed flesh in injured fingers or if there is excessive bleeding.

3. Putting a foreign body in the nose

A child younger than five years is always exploring his surroundings and curious about small objects. Sometimes, while playing, he may put a foreign object like a piece of chalk, cotton wool, an eraser, a bead or a tiny part of a toy into his nose. Some signs that your child has inserted a foreign body inside the nose are — discharge from the nose or a whistling sound while breathing.

Prevention: 

  • Keep small objects away from children.
  • Keep the floor and other surfaces clean. 
  • Avoid giving toys with small parts to babies and toddlers.  

First aid:

  • Check if you can remove the object stuck in the nose. If your child is uncomfortable and not able to breathe, rush to the hospital immediately.
  • The kissing technique can be performed at home, if the child is stable. Press against the unobstructed nostril closing it with your finger. Placing your mouth close to your child's mouth, blow gently into it; this may dislodge the foreign object. 

4. Swallowing small objects

Small children have the habit of putting objects in their mouth. That is why they are at a risk of choking after swallowing a foreign body.

  • Avoid keeping small objects near children. 
  • Keep the floor and other surfaces clean.
  • Avoid giving toys with small parts to babies and toddlers.  
  • Teach your child to be careful about putting things into her mouth. 

Watch out for: 

  • Difficulty in breathing  

First aid: 

  • Rush her to the nearest clinic or a family physician.

5. Poisoning

Children may ingest harmful substances such as detergent, cleaning liquids, insecticides and adult medication, out of curiosity when the parents are not paying attention.

Prevention: 

  • Never keep medicines and chemicals lying around in the house and within the reach of children.
  • Always store toxic substances in their original containers with appropriate labels.
  • Tell your child the dangers of ingesting chemicals and harmful substances.
  • Ensure that your child's toys and crockery are safe and made of non-toxic materials. 

Watch out for: 

  • Discolouration of your child's face
  • Breathing difficulty 
First aid:
  • Do not panic; call for help immediately.
  • If the child is unconscious but his breathing is normal, place him sideways.
  • Rush the child to the emergency room and carry along the remains of the toxic substance.

Apart from the above, there could be other accidents involving young children like strangulation with ropes and cords, accidental suffocation with a blanket or pillow while sleeping, or near-drowning. The following steps could go a long way in preventing such accidents in your home:

  • Choose age-appropriate toys for children. 
  • Keep small objects, ropes, strings and plastic bags away from children.
  • Instruct children not to play while eating.
  • Never use a pillow for a baby under one year. Do not use a large and heavy blanket.
  • Never let the blanket cover the face of the child while she sleeps.
  • Never leave your child alone in a bathtub or basin filled with water.

The author is the head of the department, Emergency and Trauma at a leading hospital in Kalyan, Mumbai.

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