Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wellness Wit and Wisdom

By Maureen Deutermann, MSN, R.N.
Director of Community Education

An early morning news program’s report brought back a vivid memory from my pediatric nursing days on a trauma unit at Children’s Hospital in San Diego. In the course of my duties I cared for many little ones who had been victims of accidents, but one of the most heart wrenching was a toddler who had been run over in his own driveway by his unsuspecting dad.

The child was riding a low slung tricycle which dad could not see through his rearview and side mirrors. The result: the little guy suffered a near fatal crushing injury to his chest. My story had a happy ending in that the child survived without any lasting physical deficits. However, the horrific guilt and remorse experienced by the father were I’m sure something he carries still.

The news story I heard unfortunately had a much more tragic ending; a one-year-old little boy was run over and killed in the family driveway on Easter Sunday. The statistics surrounding this type of accident are staggering. According to Kids and Cars, a non-profit safety organization that maintains a national database tracking such accidents, reports that 50 children a week are backed over by cars, and two of those children will die as a result.

Susan Koeppen, the CBS correspondent covering the story, noted that so far this year some 17 children have died after being run over. April is typically the peak month for these accidents, as mild weather lures the little ones outdoors. Blind zones are the culprits in these accidents, which in 60% of the cases occur with larger vehicles such as SUVs, trucks or minivans.

In an unbelievable visual, Koeppen demonstrated just how difficult it is to see behind an SUV. Through the mirrors of the car, nothing appeared in the rear view. In actually, some 60 kids were sitting behind the car! offers these tips to protect your child from a back-over injury:
  • Never leave small children unattended in the front yard; make the front yard a “no child zone” when adults are not around to closely supervise.

  • Don’t let any child play outside after dark.

  • Ideally, children should play in a fenced back yard. Take your children to a safe area to ride their bikes or to play with sidewalk chalk.

  • Back up cameras installed in cars are an added safety feature, but parents and other adults who care for children should take the extra steps…literally…of walking behind the vehicle to make sure there are no small children left undetected behind the car before they back up.

  • Car keys should never be left unattended in a vehicle.

  • At an early age instill in your child the basic safety rules of never playing around or near parked vehicles.
The bottom line: when it comes to your child’s safety, nothing replaces careful parental supervision.