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IN YOUR HANDS

- Health Unit Encourages Ways for Families to Prevent Falls and Protect Against Childhood Injuries -

While falls prevention is important for older adults, it’s also a valuable safety message that parents and caregivers should keep in mind for young children.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is highlighting steps families in Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes can take to prevent falls involving babies and young children. According to Parachute Canada, falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospital admissions for Canadian children up to age nine – more than all other injuries combined.

“We often think preventing falls only applies to seniors, but it’s just as important for the very young,” says Shelley Shaughnessy, a Registered Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit. “The most common types of falls for young children are from furniture, stairs and through windows, so it’s extra important to help prevent falls in and around your home.”

Babies can be more vulnerable to falls, as their heads are large compared to the rest of their bodies which can affect balance. Many babies can also wiggle and roll over, which makes it critical to keep a hand on them if they’re on an elevated surface like a change table.

If carrying a baby in a sling, carrier or wrap, ensure the child is supported and snug; when bending over, ensure you have a hold of the baby. If using an infant car seat, securely strap the baby into the seat. Since infant car seats are unsteady and can easily fall from high places, it’s best to place the seats on the floor – never on a counter or table. Crib mattresses should also be lowered before a baby can push up on their hands and knees to prevent them from falling out of the crib.

“As babies grow into toddlers and preschoolers, they start to walk, climb and explore. This is the time when parents and caregivers need to be extra cautious to reduce the risk of falls,” Shaughnessy adds. “Giving young children a safe place to learn or try out something new can greatly reduce the risk of falls.”

To further reduce fall-related injuries:

• Keep drawers closed and locked with latches to prevent young children from climbing onto tabletops, counters and other high places.

• Place chairs and stools away from counter tops and high places to prevent toddlers and young children from climbing and reaching dangerous things.

• Secure televisions, bookshelves and other furniture to the wall to ensure they don’t topple over if a child climbs up.

• Lock doors to the outside in homes with balconies, and be sure not to leave any furniture on the balcony that a child could use to climb over the railing.

Some areas of the home deserve special attention to avoid falls-related injuries. On stairs, install sturdy wall-mounted gates at the top of the stairs and pressure-mounted gates at the bottom to prevent falls. Window screens will not prevent children from falling through windows, so putting quick-release guards on all upper-floor windows is recommended. Keeping furniture such as cribs, change tables and dressers away from windows is also advised.

For more falls prevention tips, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 or click here.

For media inquiries, contact:

In Northumberland County, call: Shelley Shaughnessy, Registered Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1272.

In Haliburton County/City of Kawartha Lake, call: Kelly Taylor, Registered Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 3232.

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