Preventable Personal Injuries and Wrongful Deaths of Children
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Preventable Personal Injuries and Wrongful Deaths of Children

Friday, July 17, 2009By Richard Alexander

The reality is that children suffer serious personal injuries and all to often death because of non-thinking adults. Saving children's lives needs to be a greater political, social and legal priority.

Children and water are a deadly combination. When children are around water and without direct adult supervision, the likelihood of drowning increases exponentially. Shortly after 4-year old Carlos Flores entered the Great Barrier Reef wave pool at Great America in Santa Clara, he became another dro

wning victim. The unusual factor in this death is that it occurred in a public and supervised pool. Drownings that happen around the home, in backyard pools, in bathtubs, and even in buckets of water, are much more common.

Carlos' death is a loss that will scar his family forever, and it was emotionally devastating to the lifeguards and to others who were present at the time. As one report noted, "In the minutes after Carlos' death, many of the on-duty lifeguards could only sit and cry."

In this drowning, some of the fault certainly lies with Great America. Investigators found slow response time from the lifeguards, but even if the guards had acted more quickly, the child might have survived but suffered serious injuries or permanent brain damage.

The Flores family will certainly receive a financial settlement for their loss, but no amount of money can ever replace the life of a child, and some of the blame must lie with any parent who fails to watch their young child.

The best lesson that can come from this drowning is that no adult should ever leave a child unsupervised around water. Statistics show that approximately 9 Americans drown every day and that almost 30% of children aged 1 to 4 who die are drowning victims, and the majority of those drownings occur in the home.

The home is supposed to be a place of security and safety, but far too often home is where the hazards are, especially for children and for older people, and water is hardly the only danger in the home. One place where danger lurks is the medicine cabinet.

Many adults mistakenly believe that any drug that they can buy over the counter (OTC) is automatically safe, but all drugs can be harmful. People such as actor Heath Ledger sometimes take too many pills. Others take medications in dangerous combination's.

On an almost daily basis, television and newspapers carry stories of deaths and injuries in the home. Many are predictable consequences of careless actions. For example, using a kerosene heater in a home presents the possibilities of fire, burns, and fatal fumes, but it remains a common and sometimes deadly practice.

Eye injuries are a hazard for athletes and for some occupations, but nearly half of all eye injuries occur in the home. They can occur from a splash of a cleaning solvent, from a projectile thrown by a lawn mower, or from a tree branch. A pair of protective goggles will prevent most eye injuries when doing home repairs.

While the medicine cabinet presents one source of potential dangers, the space under the sink or the closet in the hall can be an equally hazardous place. They're the places where people store cleaners, furniture polish, paint, solvents, pesticides, and lots of other substances that can be harmful to health. Many of these chemicals accumulate in the body over a lifetime and do their damage slowly. They've become integral parts of our modern lives, but everyone can take steps to reduce or eliminate the threats that they present.

Life comes with many hazards that we can't avoid, but by taking precautions we can make our homes safer for our children and ourselves.

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