Safety is an extremely important health care issue, especially with children. Hidden dangers or hazards often taken a backseat to more highly publicized safety hazards, such as car accidents and drownings according to pediatrician Dr. Vincent Ianelli. Although the chance of your child getting hurt in an elevator, on an escalator, or playing on a soccer goal isn't very high, that doesn't make you or your child feel better if it happens to him. Learn about these hazards to help you protect your child and keep him safe. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that there were about 11,000 injuries on escalators in 2007, mostly from falls. In addition, there have been at least 77 reports of entrapment -- when hands, feet, or shoes (mostly clogs and slide sandals) get trapped in the escalator -- since 2006 according to About.com as reported by Dr. Ianelli.
Your kids can still ride the escalator, but be sure they do it safely. They should: tie their shoelaces before getting on the escalator--stand in the center of the escalator, face forward, hold the handrail, and step off at the end. Also, refrain from sitting or playing on the escalator -- it should not be treated as an amusement park ride. Perhaps most importantly, learn where the emergency shutoff button is so that you can turn off the escalator if someone gets entrapped while riding. Dr. Ianelli has many suggestions for safety.
Elevators can be dangerous too. Although most injuries and deaths involve the people who work on and maintain elevators, passengers can get hurt too. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, on average, about six people a year die in and around elevators. This includes about one child under the age of ten years old each year. Many others are injured. One study found that about 2,000 children each year were injured in and around elevators, with the most common injuries occurring when the elevator doors closed on a body part, such as a finger, hand, or arm. Of course, the most serious injuries, including those that were life threatening, involved falls into empty elevator shafts, including when the elevator doors opened and there was no elevator car to get in to. Deaths and serious injuries involving elevators also occurred when people get struck by the elevator between floors, fall when trying to get out of a stuck elevator, or when an elevator collapses.
To keep your kids safe when riding an elevator, be sure to:
--Watch young children, especially toddlers and preschoolers, as they get on and off an elevator
teach your kids that they shouldn't try to stop an elevator door from closing with their hands or arms.
--Teach older kids and teens to stay in the elevator car if it gets stuck and wait for assistance (push the alarm button or call for help using the elevator phone), instead of trying to get out on their own, even if the elevator door is open and they can see the next floor.
--Consider having your child carry a cell phone if he regularly rides in an elevator without supervision so that he can call for help if the elevator gets stuck and the alarm button or elevator phone is not working.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has tips on staying safe on escalators. Here are some steps you can take to help prevent escalator injuries, especially injuries to young children:
--Be aware that loose shoe laces, drawstrings, scarves, and mittens can get trapped in moving escalators. In the past year, CPSC reached an agreement with a number of children's clothing manufacturers to remove drawstrings from the necks and hoods of children's garments. If your child's clothing still has drawstrings, remove them.
--Always hold children's hands on escalators and do not permit children to sit or play on the steps.
--Do not bring children onto escalators in strollers, walkers, or carts.
--Always face forward and hold the handrail.
--Avoid the edges of steps where entrapment can occur.
--Learn where the emergency shutoff buttons are in case you need to stop the escalator.
Also, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers/American National Standards Institute Escalator Committee set a voluntary standard for escalators. The standard requires:
--That the emergency shutoff buttons be at the top and bottom of each escalator. The button should be on the right side of the escalator when facing the stairs.
--That sidewalls be made of low-friction material so soft-soled shoes cannot get caught easily.
--That "skirt obstruction devices" (which sense the presence of a foreign object and automatically shut off the escalator) be at the top and bottom of the escalator.
--That side clearance at the edges of steps be no more than 3/16 inch
--That warning signs be placed on escalators reminding parents to hold children's hands and face forward.
--That each step have painted foot prints or brightly colored borders.
SafeKidsUSA says children are at risk from hidden hazards due to their curiosity, tendency to put things in their mouths, and their size. Lack of supervision increases the risk for some of these hazards. Some result from activity that comes naturally to children. Others result from products that just don’t mix with kids. When you are with children at any time, supervision becomes ever more critical when you're around escalators, elevators, or any other situation with multiple moving parts. Don't let children get injured, especially when you have the power to prevent them from getting hurt. Pay attention in areas where accidents are more prone to happen. Simple observation and prevention will go a long way to protect children from injuries due to accidents. Make sure that you are alert to possible accidents looking for a time and place to happen. Educate your kids about safety, and it will be a lesson well learned.
Until next time. Let me know what you think.