According to a New York Times article, doctors around the country are expecting an increase in pediatric injuries at home. They say to expect more bumps, scrapes, bruises, broken bones, and more.
Home sweet home it may not be, but it is the new norm for parents and kids to be at home together 24-7. Parents are balancing working from home, being mom or dad, being the teacher, being the cook, and being the entertainer to cooped-up kids. For many parents it is mayhem. For kids, many do not understand social distancing and are out-right bored.
We all know that kids often do whatever they can get away with, especially when they are bored, and their parents are distracted (understandably so). Kids are going to ride bikes without a helmet and do death defying “Evel Knievel” jumps, they will do somersaults on the backyard trampolines, climb on dressers to jump onto the bed, and they will even throw dangerous objects at their siblings. And yes, accidents and injuries will happen.
For many kids who are hurt the hospital or doctor’s office is the last place a parent wants to be or take their child right now. Many parents are resorting to telemedicine appointments and some receive good news, while others learn they need to head to the ER with their sanitizers in hand.
So, what can a parent do to try and prevent pediatric injuries at home, as their children have more unstructured time at home? First and foremost is parental supervision. Parents are encouraged to make a shift schedule so that one parent is always “on duty” and paying attending to what the children are up to. Parents should create and maintain some structure, or a plan to the day, and be actively engaged with the kids. Parents should establish and review safety rules with their children. Parents should also make sure their home is properly childproofed – make sure furniture is secured and won’t topple over, lock up prescription medications, and make sure windows are locked or window guards are engaged. If your home is near an ungated pond or pool, always keep an eye on your kids when they go outside.
If you allow your child to ride a bicycle or use a skateboard, make sure they have the proper safety equipment including a helmet that fits property (also encourage that they are using proper social distancing). Also, do not let children use non-age appropriate toys like an electric hoverboard just to appease or stop a tantrum. When parents are distracted, they tend to make different choices than they would under normal circumstances.
If your child does get hurt, first tend to the wound and then call your child’s pediatrician and set up a telemedicine appointment. Do not delay. Your child’s doctor will not only help you assess whether you need in-person care, but can also advise you on where to go.
Stay safe. Stay healthy.