Unintentional falls hurt more children ages 14 and under than any other accidental injuries. Parents play a major role in preventing falls in children. The best way to prevent an injury is to watch, listen and stay near your child at all times. Never leave your child alone while he/she is on a high surface.
The majority of falls occur at home. Depending on the child's age, there are many common causes of fall-related injuries. How serious an injury is from a fall depends on the height of the fall and the landing surface. Most serious or fatal falls involve head injuries.
Children most often fall from:
- Baby walkers - these are unsteady and should not be used. Babies using them can easily tip over, fall out of them or fall down the stairs. Stationary walkers, or seats that rotate but do not have wheels are safe alternatives for infants and toddlers. Playpens are safe, enclosed areas that offer great safety zones for children as they learn to sit, crawl and stand.
- Furniture - always keep one hand on your young child while on a high surface like a changing table, chair, bed or couch. High chairs should be equipped with a safety belt or strap and children should be secured and supervised at all times. Do not put toys or items that may interest small children on top of the furniture.
- Playground equipment - teach children proper playground safety. Always supervise your child on the playground. Surfaces below the equipment should be soft enough to absorb the fall. Recommended surfaces include wood chips, mulch, sand, pea gravel, rubber, and mats.
- Shopping carts - young children should be seated and securely seat-belted or strapped in the front part of the basket. They should never ride or stand in the area where items are in the cart.
- Stairs - properly installed safety gaits are very important. Anchor safety gates to the wall at the bottom and top of stairs. Do not use accordion-style or tension gates on stairs as children can become trapped and strangled in these types of gates. Teach your child to use the handrails when walking up or down the stairs. Remove all clutter from stairs.
- Windows - all windows above the first floor should have locks and operable window guards. Window screens are not strong enough to keep your child safe from falling out of a window. Window guards prevent the window from opening more than four inches. They can be removed in the case of a fire.
- Bathtubs - place slip resistant mats or stickers on the bottom surface of the bath tub or shower to prevent slipping. Never leave your child unsupervised near water.
- Shoes - teach your child to keep their shoe laces tied at all times. Children should always wear footwear that fits properly and is slip-resistant and supportive such as tennis shoes.
You can help prevent certain types of falls at home by taking the proper safety steps and always supervising young children.
Patients can be seen by Texas Children's experts in Emergency Center.