…. and more importantly, how to avoid needing one!
I’m on call for the Emergency Room this week, which means I sometimes get called into the hospital in the middle of the night to take care of people with broken hands, broken faces, and bad cuts. And many of those people are children. Today I’m going to tell you, in a completely non-scientifically verified way, the top reasons I get called in to treat kids — and maybe give you some ideas for preventing them.
1) Smashed Fingers
This one is common in children of all ages. Kids love sticking their fingers in things, and I’ve seen injuries from slammed doors, bicycles chains and everything in between. What parents don’t realize is that in serious cases, kids can actually have their fingers cut or torn off in these types of injuries. Even the less serious injuries often involve removing the fingernail to fix a torn nailbed, which means weeks out of sports activities or the pool. I don’t know that there is a great way to prevent this type of injury, except for adult supervision (although I see this plenty in adults, too!)
2) Dog Bites
Kids’ faces are right at mouth height for many breeds of dogs. And nearly all of the dog bites I’ve treated happened (a) with a dog the child knows and (b) were not an intentional attack on the dog’s part. Usually the dog is going for a treat or a toy, and the child happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. A friendly labrador accidentally catching a tooth on a child’s lip can mean dozens of stitches. Supervision is key whenever children and pets are playing together.
3) Injuries from ATVs (fill in snowmobiles, motorcycles, or your motorized vehicle of choice here)
My mom was an ER nurse when I was growing up, and never let me ride a 4-wheeler, ATV or snowmobile. I thought she was too strict at the time, but after seeing the number of kids that come in to the ER with severe facial fractures and head injuries after taking a spill off an ATV, I doubt I’ll ever let my own children on one. If your family does participate in these types of activities, please use appropriate safety equipment, and never, ever, let your child ride on a vehicle with an adult who has been drinking. This happens much more commonly than you would think.
4) Injuries from Lawnmowers
Nearly every summer I see at least one child who was accidentally run over by a push lawnmower, or fell off a riding lawnmower while riding on a parent’s lap. And spending a summer in the hospital, having multiple operations to try to save your foot, is not something anyone should ever have to go through. When you are operating any type of machinery, be it lawnmower or hedge clipper, make sure you know where your children are at all times. And please don’t allow them to ride on your lap!
Do you have any questions about when to take kids to the ER? Or any great stories to share?
Disclaimer: This webpage is for general information only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical illness, or give any specific medical advice. Because medical knowlege is constantly evolving, I cannot guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of any information in this blog.