10 ways to save your child's life - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

10 ways to save your child's life

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By Laura Flynn McCarthy

You've sheepishly thumbed through nanny-cam brochures, wondering if you should plant a few in teddy bears to spy on your child's caregiver. You've considered backpack-attachable GPS systems to track your child's whereabouts. You've even stashed your stick deodorants far out of reach after hearing about a little boy who ate one and had to have his stomach pumped.

Moms know that dangers lurk in our homes and out in the world. But did you realize that accidents—not illness or kidnapping—are in fact the main hazard to children? "Injuries cause more deaths in children than the next seven leading causes of death combined, and parents actually have lots of control over that," says Garry Gardner, MD, chair of the Committee on injury, violence and poison prevention for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Read on to find out the leading child safety dangers and the easy steps you can take to keep your kids out of harm's way.

1: Get Car Smart  

The Danger

Motor vehicle accidents are the No. 1 cause of death for children ages 1 to 19, accounting for about 13 percent of unintentional injury deaths in infants and more than half of all such deaths in kids 5 to 14.

The Problem

Kids are often in the wrong car seat or one that was installed incorrectly. Seven out of ten kids in child safety seats are not properly buckled in, according to data from the national campaign SeatCheck (seatcheck.org). What's more, hundreds of children are injured each year when struck by a car in a driveway or parking area, likely because drivers didn't realize the kids were playing behind the car when they backed out. And last year 42 children in the United States died because they developed hyperthermia, or heatstroke, when playing in or left in cars that became too hot very quickly. A report from San Francisco State and Stanford universities notes that the temperature inside a car can rise about 40 degrees an hour.

The Solution

Follow these guidelines for buying and using the right car seat. Your infant should be in a rear-facing car seat until at least a year old and at least 20 pounds (or at the upper limit set for the specific car seat model). According to the AAP, forward-facing car seats are for children up to about age 4 and up to 40 pounds (or an older child under 40 pounds; weight trumps age). The next step is a booster seat. "Children should stay in the booster seat until they're fifty-seven inches tall," says Dr. Gardner. "At that size children can be protected by the car's lap and shoulder belts alone. Before that point, typically the shoulder belt comes across the neck and the lap belt is under the rib cage, and in a crash the belts could rupture your child's liver and spleen." To make sure you are using your child's car seat correctly, go to seatcheck.org and search the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's seat check listings by typing your zip code in the Inspection Locator. You'll get a location in your area where a certified inspector will check the positioning for free. Whenever you leave your car, check all seats routinely. Teach your child that cars are not a place to play, and always lock the car when you park it. Before you drive anywhere, walk around your car to make sure children are not behind it, and teach your children to move out of the way of cars that are backing up. And never leave young children alone in a parked car—even for a minute.

2: Beware of Fire and Hot Water

The Danger

Children can be easily burned by fire and by scalding water. Fires and burns are the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in 5-to 9-yearolds and the third leading cause in 1- to 4-year-olds.

The Problem

Some 14,500 structure fires may occur yearly due to playing with fire, half started by kids 5 and under, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Children also commonly get severe burns by reaching for hot items on the stove or exposing their skin to scalding water.

The Solution

Have at least one working smoke detector in your home and preferably two—one ionization type and one save your child's life photoelectric. Change the batteries at least once a year and replace the whole alarm every eight to ten years, suggests the U.S. Fire Administration. To reduce your child's risk of burns from scalding water, turn down the temperature on your hot water heater to 120F. "If your temperature is set at 160 degrees and your child turns on the hot water, he can get a full-thickness burn in two seconds," says Dr. Gardner. "If you reduce the setting to 120 degrees, it will take ten minutes for your child to get the same burn, and he'll pull away long before it happens." When grilling outside, keep matches, lighters and flammable equipment and chemicals far from kids' reach; and never leave your child unsupervised in the kitchen.  

3: Avoid Standing Water  

The Danger

Drowning peaks between ages 1 and 4 and is the top cause of unintentional injury death.

The Problem

Young children are top-heavy, so it's easy for them to look down into a toilet, a bucket of water or other container of liquid and topple in headfirst and be unable to right themselves. "Children can drown in two inches of water," says Gary Smith, MD, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, OH. And it can take only minutes.

The Solution

Never leave your baby or toddler unattended around water—ever. Use toilet locks, empty your cleaning buckets immediately, and consider your child's bath time uninterruptible—no leaving the bathroom to answer the phone, even for a second. Make sure your child's caregivers are clear on these rules as well. (For tips on pool safety, see Healthy Child.)  

4: Don't Buy fireworks

The Danger

Kids can be seriously injured or killed by fireworks. In 2006, 9,200 people sustained fireworks injuries serious enough to send them to the hospital. About one third were injuries to kids under 15. About a third of injuries are to hands or fingers, about a fourth to eyes and about a fifth elsewhere on the head and face.

The Problem

Even children who don't handle fireworks directly may be at risk; about 26 percent of children treated in hospitals for fireworks-related injuries were bystanders, according to one report. "The devastation that bottle rockets cause, for example, is absolutely phenomenal," says Dr. Smith. "When lit, their path is erratic and unpredictable, and bystanders can be struck." As for sparklers, fountains and novelties, they're a leading cause of fireworks-related injuries in kids under 4. "The tip of a sparkler burns at well over 1,000 degrees, and that will cause a severe burn in less than a second," Dr. Smith warns. "It will also ignite clothing. Studies we've done show that in over half of sparkler injuries, a parent was standing right there at the moment of injury. But because these injuries occur so quickly, all you can do is watch it happen."

The Solution

The AAP is unequivocal in its recommendation: People of any age simply should not use private fireworks, and their use should be banned. If you want to celebrate with a "bang," attend a professional fireworks display.

5: Bone Up on Bike and ATV Safety  

The Danger

Each year more than 800 people die in bicycle-related accidents, and another half million people sustain bicycle-related injuries that are treated in ERs, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). In addition, CPSC data from 2007 indicates that more than 150,000 people were treated in hospitals that year for injuries related to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), and more than 20 percent of people injured or killed by ATVs are kids under 16.

The Problem

Next to death, the most severe injury in a bike crash is head trauma. Kids still ride without protective helmets and are sometimes allowed to drive ATVs without a license.

The Solution

In addition to teaching your child on-the-road bike safety rules, check her helmet fit frequently. It should fit snugly, flat atop your child's head, not tilted back at an angle. The chinstrap should buckle securely, and the helmet should not obstruct her view. A correctly fitting helmet can reduce head injury by up to 85 percent. As for ATVs, the AAP recommends that children who are not licensed to drive a car should not operate them and that anyone on an ATV should wear a motorcycle helmet.

6: Lock up Your Chemicals  

The Danger

Swallowing a toxic substance can cause serious illness, even death.

The Problem

Parents often don't realize certain substances can be poisonous. "Sometimes just one pill—cardiac medication, opiates, some antidepressants—or one gulp—furniture polish, lye, oil for oil-burning lamps—can seriously injure or in some cases kill a child," says Dr. Smith. "Even something as seemingly benign as acetaminophen can be deadly if taken in large amounts. Teens who take just one handful of high-dose [500 mg] acetaminophen tablets can develop such severe liver damage that they need a liver transplant or they die. Very young children use their mouths to explore the world. But older children and teens may experiment with medications recreationally, which could be a main reason that poisoning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in teenagers." Everyday products we often leave out and in reach, like perfumes, can also make a child sick if a substantial amount is consumed.

The Solution

 If you have young children, keep potentially dangerous substances out of reach, stored on a high shelf and/or locked up. Keep poisons in their original containers. To prevent poisonings in teens, talk to them about the risks of taking medications that aren't prescribed for them or using any drug recreationally. In case of any substance ingestion, put the nationwide poison control center number by each telephone in your home: 800-222-1222.

7: Invest in Safety Gates and Window Guards  

The Danger

Children can easily climb up to and fall from high places. Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries in kids, sending about 8,000 to the ER daily.

The Problem

Serious falls from greater heights tend to happen in summer, likely because windows are open and children are more apt to play on roofs and balconies. The risks of serious injury or death rise if a child falls from a height of more than two stories or lands on a hard surface.

The Solution

In addition to making sure your small children are supervised at all times, install gates at the top of stairs and locks on your windows so they cannot be opened more than four inches. The AAP recommends opening double-hung windows from the top only, keeping furniture away from windows so children can't climb on it to get out and installing window guards on second-floor and higher-story windows. Discourage older children from playing on roofs, fire escapes, balconies and other lofty areas, especially if these areas have railings with vertical openings of more than four inches. Also, allow your child to play only on playground equipment that has a soft landing area, such as wood chips, pebbles or rubber.

8: Set Up a Safe Sleep Space  

The Danger

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), suffocation and strangulation are serious risks for infants. Although SIDS death rates have decreased dramatically since the early 1990s, when experts recommended putting infants to sleep on their back, about 2,500 infants still die from SIDS each year. And accidental suffocation and strangulation in infants have increased nearly fourfold. The Problem "Although it's not certain why, suffocation and strangulation increases could be due to a difference in the way infant deaths are investigated and defined," says Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza, PhD, MPH, head of the SUID (sudden unexpected infant death) initiative at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Parents should be aware that infants in beds (not cribs) can get stuck between the mattress and the wall, and those sleeping in beds with adults can get rolled onto. Babies can also get caught in electrical or blind cords near their cribs.

The Solution

Until we know the answers, it's best to follow AAP guidelines for preventing SIDS: Put your baby down on his back in a crib with a firm mattress— no cushy bumpers, pillows, comforters or stuffed animals. Don't allow your infant to sleep in your bed. Make sure no electrical or blind cords are anywhere near the crib. Consider letting your baby suck on a pacifier while sleeping, which has been associated with reduced SIDS risk. You might also add a fan to your baby's room, as a recent study suggests this can reduce SIDS risk, too.

9: Don't Keep a Gun in Your Home

The Danger

In-home firearms raise risks that your child will get shot. Data indicates that guns may kill eight children a day, and more than 13,000 per year may be wounded. The rate of firearm-related deaths for U.S. children under 15 is nearly 12 times greater than that for 25 other industrialized countries—"alarming beyond description," says Dr. Smith.

The Problem

 Some 40 percent of U.S. homes with children have guns, and nearly 1.7 million kids under 18 live in homes with guns that are loaded and unlocked.

The Solution

 The most effective way to prevent firearm-related injury is to not keep a gun in your home. But if you do, keep it unloaded and locked up, and lock the ammunition in a separate area. Don't assume other homes where your child plays are gun-free; ask the parents of your child's playmates. Feel uneasy? In one survey, 97 percent of gun-owning parents said they would not feel uncomfortable if asked by another parent about the presence of a gun in their home.

10: Teach Your Child to Say No

The Danger

 Kidnapping, by both strangers and known adults, is a reality. In a one-year period, close to 800,000 children were reported missing—more than 2,000 each day—according to a U.S. Department of Justice report. Only about 115 each year are the victims of "stereotypical" kidnapping, in which the child does not know the kidnapper and the kidnapper demands ransom.

The Problem

 Many parents focus on "stranger danger" to protect their kids, by warning them not to talk to strangers. In fact, in long-term kidnappings where the child was found alive, 85 percent of victims knew the kidnapper and would not consider the person a stranger. Online solicitation of children is also troublesome: About one in seven 10- to 17-year-olds has been sexually solicited or approached over the Internet, and 4 percent have received an "aggressive" solicitation—someone met them in person, called them on the telephone or sent them offline mail, according to a report from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

The Solution

Keep the computer your kids use centrally located in your home, and make sure they don't enter chat rooms or websites not meant for children. To ensure your child can be identified if she does go missing, update her photos every six months, and make sure she knows her name, address and phone number. The NCMEC further recommends practicing "what if" scenarios with your child: for example, "What would you do if that man we've seen in the mall approached you and said, ‘My puppy is missing; could you help me find it?'" In this case, tell your child to say, "I need to ask my mom first," then run to a parent or guardian. Tell older kids not to go out alone, always tell a trusted adult where they're going and always check with you before accepting anything or getting into a car with anyone. Teach kids that safety is more important than manners—it's okay to say no or be rude if they feel threatened or in danger.

When It's a Medical Emergency

The rare but devastating case of actress Natasha Richardson's brain injury due to a skiing fall—reportedly she had no immediate visible symptoms, but it ultimately led to her death—has alerted us to the importance of recognizing symptoms of a true emergency and taking quick action. Erring on the side of caution when faced with a head injury and visiting the ER even when no obvious symptoms are present could, in rare cases, be the difference between life and death. (Call 911. EMTs can begin help and assessment immediately.)

Beyond this, the American College of Emergency Physicians says to consider emergency care for a child for any of these reasons (not an all-inclusive list):

After a fall or other head injury,

  • Depending on severity, even when no symptoms are present
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Excessive sleepiness/difficulty waking
  • Headaches, especially if they worsen
  • Bulging in a soft spot on the front of an infant's head
  • Unequal pupil size
  • Difficulty speaking, confusion or inconsolable crying
  • Repeated vomiting or refusing to eat or nurse
  • Sign of skull trauma like depressed area at injury location
  • Signs of swelling at injury location

Burns

  • To eyes, mouth, hands or genitals, even if mild
  • Caused by contact with electricity or caustic chemicals
  • Skin looks white or charred, is filled with greenish or brownish fluid or has pus-like, foul-smelling drainage
  • Cause fever and/or nausea and vomiting

Swallowing poison

  • Anytime a poisonous (or possibly poisonous) substance is ingested, call the poison control center at 800-222-1222; if you see a doctor, bring poison in original container if safe to do so

Fever

  • Child less than 2 months old has fever of 100.4f or higher
  • Child is lethargic, unresponsive, has trouble breathing
  • or won't eat
  • Signs of dehydration—dry lips and tongue, sunken eyes
  • Fever lasts for more than three days
  • Child experiences a febrile seizure

By Laura Flynn McCarthy

You've sheepishly thumbed through nanny-cam brochures, wondering if you should plant a few in teddy bears to spy on your child's caregiver. You've considered backpack-attachable GPS systems to track your child's whereabouts. You've even stashed your stick deodorants far out of reach after hearing about a little boy who ate one and had to have his stomach pumped.

Moms know that dangers lurk in our homes and out in the world. But did you realize that accidents—not illness or kidnapping—are in fact the main hazard to children? "Injuries cause more deaths in children than the next seven leading causes of death combined, and parents actually have lots of control over that," says Garry Gardner, MD, chair of the Committee on injury, violence and poison prevention for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Read on to find out the leading child safety dangers and the easy steps you can take to keep your kids out of harm's way.

1: Get Car Smart  

The Danger

Motor vehicle accidents are the No. 1 cause of death for children ages 1 to 19, accounting for about 13 percent of unintentional injury deaths in infants and more than half of all such deaths in kids 5 to 14.

The Problem

Kids are often in the wrong car seat or one that was installed incorrectly. Seven out of ten kids in child safety seats are not properly buckled in, according to data from the national campaign SeatCheck (seatcheck.org). What's more, hundreds of children are injured each year when struck by a car in a driveway or parking area, likely because drivers didn't realize the kids were playing behind the car when they backed out. And last year 42 children in the United States died because they developed hyperthermia, or heatstroke, when playing in or left in cars that became too hot very quickly. A report from San Francisco State and Stanford universities notes that the temperature inside a car can rise about 40 degrees an hour.

The Solution

Follow these guidelines for buying and using the right car seat. Your infant should be in a rear-facing car seat until at least a year old and at least 20 pounds (or at the upper limit set for the specific car seat model). According to the AAP, forward-facing car seats are for children up to about age 4 and up to 40 pounds (or an older child under 40 pounds; weight trumps age). The next step is a booster seat. "Children should stay in the booster seat until they're fifty-seven inches tall," says Dr. Gardner. "At that size children can be protected by the car's lap and shoulder belts alone. Before that point, typically the shoulder belt comes across the neck and the lap belt is under the rib cage, and in a crash the belts could rupture your child's liver and spleen." To make sure you are using your child's car seat correctly, go to seatcheck.org and search the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's seat check listings by typing your zip code in the Inspection Locator. You'll get a location in your area where a certified inspector will check the positioning for free. Whenever you leave your car, check all seats routinely. Teach your child that cars are not a place to play, and always lock the car when you park it. Before you drive anywhere, walk around your car to make sure children are not behind it, and teach your children to move out of the way of cars that are backing up. And never leave young children alone in a parked car—even for a minute.

2: Beware of Fire and Hot Water

The Danger

Children can be easily burned by fire and by scalding water. Fires and burns are the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in 5-to 9-yearolds and the third leading cause in 1- to 4-year-olds.

The Problem

Some 14,500 structure fires may occur yearly due to playing with fire, half started by kids 5 and under, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Children also commonly get severe burns by reaching for hot items on the stove or exposing their skin to scalding water.

The Solution

Have at least one working smoke detector in your home and preferably two—one ionization type and one save your child's life photoelectric. Change the batteries at least once a year and replace the whole alarm every eight to ten years, suggests the U.S. Fire Administration. To reduce your child's risk of burns from scalding water, turn down the temperature on your hot water heater to 120F. "If your temperature is set at 160 degrees and your child turns on the hot water, he can get a full-thickness burn in two seconds," says Dr. Gardner. "If you reduce the setting to 120 degrees, it will take ten minutes for your child to get the same burn, and he'll pull away long before it happens." When grilling outside, keep matches, lighters and flammable equipment and chemicals far from kids' reach; and never leave your child unsupervised in the kitchen.

3: Avoid Standing Water  

The Danger

Drowning peaks between ages 1 and 4 and is the top cause of unintentional injury death.

The Problem

Young children are top-heavy, so it's easy for them to look down into a toilet, a bucket of water or other container of liquid and topple in headfirst and be unable to right themselves. "Children can drown in two inches of water," says Gary Smith, MD, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, OH. And it can take only minutes.

The Solution

Never leave your baby or toddler unattended around water—ever. Use toilet locks, empty your cleaning buckets immediately, and consider your child's bath time uninterruptible—no leaving the bathroom to answer the phone, even for a second. Make sure your child's caregivers are clear on these rules as well. (For tips on pool safety, see Healthy Child.)  

4: Don't Buy fireworks

The Danger

Kids can be seriously injured or killed by fireworks. In 2006, 9,200 people sustained fireworks injuries serious enough to send them to the hospital. About one third were injuries to kids under 15. About a third of injuries are to hands or fingers, about a fourth to eyes and about a fifth elsewhere on the head and face.

The Problem

Even children who don't handle fireworks directly may be at risk; about 26 percent of children treated in hospitals for fireworks-related injuries were bystanders, according to one report. "The devastation that bottle rockets cause, for example, is absolutely phenomenal," says Dr. Smith. "When lit, their path is erratic and unpredictable, and bystanders can be struck." As for sparklers, fountains and novelties, they're a leading cause of fireworks-related injuries in kids under 4. "The tip of a sparkler burns at well over 1,000 degrees, and that will cause a severe burn in less than a second," Dr. Smith warns. "It will also ignite clothing. Studies we've done show that in over half of sparkler injuries, a parent was standing right there at the moment of injury. But because these injuries occur so quickly, all you can do is watch it happen."

The Solution

The AAP is unequivocal in its recommendation: People of any age simply should not use private fireworks, and their use should be banned. If you want to celebrate with a "bang," attend a professional fireworks display.

5: Bone Up on Bike and ATV Safety  

The Danger

Each year more than 800 people die in bicycle-related accidents, and another half million people sustain bicycle-related injuries that are treated in ERs, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). In addition, CPSC data from 2007 indicates that more than 150,000 people were treated in hospitals that year for injuries related to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), and more than 20 percent of people injured or killed by ATVs are kids under 16.

The Problem

Next to death, the most severe injury in a bike crash is head trauma. Kids still ride without protective helmets and are sometimes allowed to drive ATVs without a license.

The Solution

In addition to teaching your child on-the-road bike safety rules, check her helmet fit frequently. It should fit snugly, flat atop your child's head, not tilted back at an angle. The chinstrap should buckle securely, and the helmet should not obstruct her view. A correctly fitting helmet can reduce head injury by up to 85 percent. As for ATVs, the AAP recommends that children who are not licensed to drive a car should not operate them and that anyone on an ATV should wear a motorcycle helmet.

6: Lock up Your Chemicals  

The Danger

Swallowing a toxic substance can cause serious illness, even death.

The Problem

Parents often don't realize certain substances can be poisonous. "Sometimes just one pill—cardiac medication, opiates, some antidepressants—or one gulp—furniture polish, lye, oil for oil-burning lamps—can seriously injure or in some cases kill a child," says Dr. Smith. "Even something as seemingly benign as acetaminophen can be deadly if taken in large amounts. Teens who take just one handful of high-dose [500 mg] acetaminophen tablets can develop such severe liver damage that they need a liver transplant or they die. Very young children use their mouths to explore the world. But older children and teens may experiment with medications recreationally, which could be a main reason that poisoning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in teenagers." Everyday products we often leave out and in reach, like perfumes, can also make a child sick if a substantial amount is consumed.

The Solution

 If you have young children, keep potentially dangerous substances out of reach, stored on a high shelf and/or locked up. Keep poisons in their original containers. To prevent poisonings in teens, talk to them about the risks of taking medications that aren't prescribed for them or using any drug recreationally. In case of any substance ingestion, put the nationwide poison control center number by each telephone in your home: 800-222-1222.

7: Invest in Safety Gates and Window Guards  

The Danger

Children can easily climb up to and fall from high places. Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries in kids, sending about 8,000 to the ER daily.

The Problem

Serious falls from greater heights tend to happen in summer, likely because windows are open and children are more apt to play on roofs and balconies. The risks of serious injury or death rise if a child falls from a height of more than two stories or lands on a hard surface.

The Solution

In addition to making sure your small children are supervised at all times, install gates at the top of stairs and locks on your windows so they cannot be opened more than four inches. The AAP recommends opening double-hung windows from the top only, keeping furniture away from windows so children can't climb on it to get out and installing window guards on second-floor and higher-story windows. Discourage older children from playing on roofs, fire escapes, balconies and other lofty areas, especially if these areas have railings with vertical openings of more than four inches. Also, allow your child to play only on playground equipment that has a soft landing area, such as wood chips, pebbles or rubber.

8: Set Up a Safe Sleep Space  

The Danger

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), suffocation and strangulation are serious risks for infants. Although SIDS death rates have decreased dramatically since the early 1990s, when experts recommended putting infants to sleep on their back, about 2,500 infants still die from SIDS each year. And accidental suffocation and strangulation in infants have increased nearly fourfold. The Problem "Although it's not certain why, suffocation and strangulation increases could be due to a difference in the way infant deaths are investigated and defined," says Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza, PhD, MPH, head of the SUID (sudden unexpected infant death) initiative at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Parents should be aware that infants in beds (not cribs) can get stuck between the mattress and the wall, and those sleeping in beds with adults can get rolled onto. Babies can also get caught in electrical or blind cords near their cribs.

The Solution

Until we know the answers, it's best to follow AAP guidelines for preventing SIDS: Put your baby down on his back in a crib with a firm mattress— no cushy bumpers, pillows, comforters or stuffed animals. Don't allow your infant to sleep in your bed. Make sure no electrical or blind cords are anywhere near the crib. Consider letting your baby suck on a pacifier while sleeping, which has been associated with reduced SIDS risk. You might also add a fan to your baby's room, as a recent study suggests this can reduce SIDS risk, too.

9: Don't Keep a Gun in Your Home

The Danger

In-home firearms raise risks that your child will get shot. Data indicates that guns may kill eight children a day, and more than 13,000 per year may be wounded. The rate of firearm-related deaths for U.S. children under 15 is nearly 12 times greater than that for 25 other industrialized countries—"alarming beyond description," says Dr. Smith.

The Problem

Some 40 percent of U.S. homes with children have guns, and nearly 1.7 million kids under 18 live in homes with guns that are loaded and unlocked.

The Solution

The most effective way to prevent firearm-related injury is to not keep a gun in your home. But if you do, keep it unloaded and locked up, and lock the ammunition in a separate area. Don't assume other homes where your child plays are gun-free; ask the parents of your child's playmates. Feel uneasy? In one survey, 97 percent of gun-owning parents said they would not feel uncomfortable if asked by another parent about the presence of a gun in their home.

10: Teach Your Child to Say No

The Danger

Kidnapping, by both strangers and known adults, is a reality. In a one-year period, close to 800,000 children were reported missing—more than 2,000 each day—according to a U.S. Department of Justice report. Only about 115 each year are the victims of "stereotypical" kidnapping, in which the child does not know the kidnapper and the kidnapper demands ransom.

The Problem

Many parents focus on "stranger danger" to protect their kids, by warning them not to talk to strangers. In fact, in long-term kidnappings where the child was found alive, 85 percent of victims knew the kidnapper and would not consider the person a stranger. Online solicitation of children is also troublesome: About one in seven 10- to 17-year-olds has been sexually solicited or approached over the Internet, and 4 percent have received an "aggressive" solicitation—someone met them in person, called them on the telephone or sent them offline mail, according to a report from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

The Solution

Keep the computer your kids use centrally located in your home, and make sure they don't enter chat rooms or websites not meant for children. To ensure your child can be identified if she does go missing, update her photos every six months, and make sure she knows her name, address and phone number. The NCMEC further recommends practicing "what if" scenarios with your child: for example, "What would you do if that man we've seen in the mall approached you and said, ‘My puppy is missing; could you help me find it?'" In this case, tell your child to say, "I need to ask my mom first," then run to a parent or guardian. Tell older kids not to go out alone, always tell a trusted adult where they're going and always check with you before accepting anything or getting into a car with anyone. Teach kids that safety is more important than manners—it's okay to say no or be rude if they feel threatened or in danger.

When It's a Medical Emergency

The rare but devastating case of actress Natasha Richardson's brain injury due to a skiing fall—reportedly she had no immediate visible symptoms, but it ultimately led to her death—has alerted us to the importance of recognizing symptoms of a true emergency and taking quick action. Erring on the side of caution when faced with a head injury and visiting the ER even when no obvious symptoms are present could, in rare cases, be the difference between life and death. (Call 911. EMTs can begin help and assessment immediately.)

Beyond this, the American College of Emergency Physicians says to consider emergency care for a child for any of these reasons (not an all-inclusive list):

After a fall or other head injury,

  • Depending on severity, even when no symptoms are present
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Excessive sleepiness/difficulty waking
  • Headaches, especially if they worsen
  • Bulging in a soft spot on the front of an infant's head
  • Unequal pupil size
  • Difficulty speaking, confusion or inconsolable crying
  • Repeated vomiting or refusing to eat or nurse
  • Sign of skull trauma like depressed area at injury location
  • Signs of swelling at injury location

Burns

  • To eyes, mouth, hands or genitals, even if mild
  • Caused by contact with electricity or caustic chemicals
  • Skin looks white or charred, is filled with greenish or brownish fluid or has pus-like, foul-smelling drainage
  • Cause fever and/or nausea and vomiting

Swallowing poison

  • Anytime a poisonous (or possibly poisonous) substance is ingested, call the poison control center at 800-222-1222; if you see a doctor, bring poison in original container if safe to do so

Fever

  • Child less than 2 months old has fever of 100.4f or higher
  • Child is lethargic, unresponsive, has trouble breathing
  • or won't eat
  • Signs of dehydration—dry lips and tongue, sunken eyes
  • Fever lasts for more than three days
  • Child experiences a febrile seizure