Safe Kids Northern New Jersey is a community-based Injury Prevention Coalition located within Morristown Medical Center’s Trauma Services. Its mission is to reduce fatalities, injuries and property damage from unintentional bodily harm that occurs to children of all ages on the road, at home and while at play. KJ Feury, APN, coordinator of the coalition, discusses what everyone needs to know about stepping up safety and prevention to protect family and loved ones.
Q: Why, as a culture, are we so accident prone?
A: This isn’t the case. We’re not accident prone at all. We make decisions that can have negative outcomes and cause intentional injury. A decision to speed, drive under the influence or participate in a winter sport such as skiing or snowboarding without wearing a helmet puts ourselves and others at risk of injury.
Q: What are the most frequent accidents that occur with children?
A: Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in children ages 5 to 9 years old, while drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4. Most drownings and near-drownings occur in residential swimming pools and open water sites. However, children can drown in as little as one inch of water.
Airway obstruction is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among infants under age 1. Each year, about 100 children die and 254,000 get hurt in bicycle-related accidents. Falling is the leading cause of nonfatal injury for children while at home. Children ages 19 and under account for about 8,000 fall-related visits to the emergency room every day.
Q: How accessible is safety training in the public schools?
A: Most schools include trauma injury prevention within their health curriculum or among their extra risk-taking behavior programming, which includes Drug Abuse Resistance Education; traffic safety; and bike, pedestrian and motor vehicle risk-taking programs. The key is that injury prevention needs to be reinforced at home.
Q: When will accident prevention be acknowledged in its full scope?
A: There has been tremendous headway made in decreasing the incidents of unintentional injury over the last 30 years. Legislative changes in airbags, seat belts, blood alcohol levels and intoxication, speeding and helmet safety have increased awareness and behavioral changes. These behavioral changes can lead to a decrease in unintentional injury on the road. Tightened policies on keeping smoke and carbon monoxide detectors functioning properly, along with the safe construction design of decks and playground surfaces, have led to a decrease in unintentional injuries.
There is an opportunity for education and behavior change with distracted drivers and pedestrian crashes. Driver inattention was a contributing cause of nearly 800,000 car crashes from 2012- 2018. Driving while using a cellphone played a major role in these numbers. Also, more than half of adult cellphone owners have been on the giving or receiving end of a distracted walking encounter. Injury prevention involves behavior change and a commitment to safe behaviors. It’s difficult to achieve. We all must continue education and increasing awareness of the risks.
For more information, visit safekids.org.