I always say that I never truly knew fear until I became a mother. As parents, our heads can quickly become filled with all of the worst-case-scenarios possible. When my firstborn was young, I often had to fight off fears when she was near water, close to a ledge, or even in the back seat of my car.
“In order to end preventable deaths in our lifetime, our work must begin at birth,” said National Safety Council (NSC) President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “Protecting our children is a down payment on our future. This National Safety Month, I hope all new parents will consider the data and take simple steps to ensure No One Gets Hurt – especially our most precious citizens.”
While not every accident is preventable, the NSC recently sent out a press release to share with families the five most common ways child deaths occur and how we can take precautions against them. Although they are not surprising, it’s important to read them and consider what we can do to lessen the statistics and safe-proof our families.
Suffocation. In 2016, 1,056 children up to age 4 died of mechanical suffocation, losing the ability to breathe due to strangulation or smothering, often during sleep. Check cribs and sleeping areas to make sure they are free of items that could suffocate a child, including stuffed animals and bumper pads.
Car crashes. That same year, 511 children ages 4 and younger died in motor vehicle incidents. Secure children in the back seat of vehicles in child seats that are appropriate for their age, weight and height, and make sure seats are properly installed.
Drowning. 463 children died from drowning, as well, in 2016. Enroll children in swimming classes as soon as they are old enough, and always supervise bath time.
Fire. 116 children died from fires. Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in the sleeping areas of everyone in the family, including babies and children, and change the batteries at least once each year.
Choking. 85 children died from choking. Provide your child with age-appropriate toys, and make sure there are not small pieces that could be removed or broken off and pose choking risks.
We understand that these things are not fun, or easy, to talk about. But, according to NSC Spokesperson Maureen Vogel, “The first step to prevention is education. If parents know the biggest risks facing their children, the vast majority will take steps to mitigate those risks. Preventing accidental death might seem impossible, but it isn’t. There are very simple things we can all do.”
Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.