As parents, we spend a lot of time fixating on child risks that are either sensational or mostly unpreventable.
You know what I’m talking about. The media spent the past few months turning the summer into the Summer of Hot Car Deaths, even though the risk of this tragedy happening to your child is, in fact, minuscule. It’s either sensational stories like those about hot cars, or the unpreventable stories of brain-eating amoebas or childhood cancers that leave us breathless because of our powerlessness.
When was the last time, though, that you read a story about the quiet monsters that are far more likely to bring tragedy to your family? They’re out there, they’re largely preventable and they took the lives of 13,425 children in 2010. And my guess is that you don’t think about them very much, because I know I don’t.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and National Child Mortality Data, the following real-life monsters are the biggest risks your child will face, besides certain unpreventable diseases like cancer and congenital defects.
1. Motor vehicle accident. Car wrecks are the leading cause of unintentional injury death for children across most age groups. Parents must abide by car seat safety tips for young children, and use a booster seat until children are 12 years old to prevent accidental death (yes, even if your child complains).
2. Drowning. Kids less than 1 year old and older than 16 are far less likely to die by drowning, but drowning is a leading cause of death for kids ages 2 to 15. Teach water safety to your kids, and never take your eyes off of them when they’re in the pool, lake or ocean. Never.
3. Death by firearm. Gun rights are a hot topic in America, but there’s no doubt about it: Firearms kill people, particularly the small people that we love. Whether by homicide, suicide or accidental firing, firearms killed 2,673 kids in 2010. Lock them up, make sure your kids’ friends’ parents lock them up — or, better yet, don’t bring them into your home at all.
4. Suffocation. Children under the age of 4 are at great risk for choking or suffocating, so keep their cribs clear and supervise them while eating. Sadly, older teens have a high risk for suffocation, too — only it’s due to intentional self-harm. Monitor your children for risk factors for depression and suicidal ideation to prevent this tragedy from occurring.
5. Poisoning. We know to lock up medicines and cleaners for young kids, but are you monitoring your older children and teens around your meds and cleaners? Unintentional poisoning — presumably in the form of overdoses — killed 3,183 teens and young adults between 15-24 in 2010.
The numbers are shocking, but they beg the question — are you doing all you can to prevent these very real risks from visiting your home?