Doctor’s orders: 5 ways to keep your kids out of the ER

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Helmet

because-I-said-so-blackKids. They’re into everything, ready to grab a stool and dump all the flour the minute you turn your back. But while some kinds of mischief are merely annoying, others are dangerous.

Utah Valley 360 talked to Dr. Randle Likes about common childhood injuries he sees in the emergency room, and what you can do as a parent to prevent them. Dr. Likes has been in practice for 13 years and has worked at Timpanogos Regional Hospital in Orem since 2012.

Below, he shares five simple things you can do to keep your kids out of the emergency room:

1. Keep medication totally inaccessible to children.

“Childproof bottles are really more adult-proof than childproof,” says Dr. Likes. Don’t assume that the packaging is enough to protect your children from what’s inside. There are some pills that can kill a child if only one is ingested, so it’s important that children never have access to bottles of pills. Keep medication out of sight and up high, where it’s unreachable. If your young ones can climb, consider keeping it locked up. For more information, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tips to Prevent Poisonings: cdc.gov.

2. Be hyper-vigilant about drowning.

Every day, two children in the United States die from unintentional drowning, according to the CDC. Be aware of any kind of water that might pose a threat to your child, be it bath water, a swimming pool, or even a small, backyard blow-up pool. Be especially careful at naptime, when kids can sneak out and find standing water, says Dr. Likes. “You should always assume that they are going to find their way to that water,” he says. For more information on preventing childhood drownings, visit the CDC’s webpage on Unitentional Drowning at http: cdc.gov.

3. Use a helmet and protective gear for skateboards, roller skates and in-line skates, and supervise trampolines.

Dr. Likes jokes that trampolines, skateboards and skates keep orthopedic surgeons in business because of all the broken bones they cause. Children should be supervised on a trampoline. Burying a trampoline in the ground and adding protective netting can prevent some injuries, but it’s still a potentially dangerous piece of play equipment, Dr. Likes says. And children should always wear protective gear when skating, Likes says. Same goes for riding a bike.

4. Keep little hands away from hot surfaces.

“You have to assume the worst with kids,” says Dr. Likes. “If there is a hot surface somehwere, you have to assume there is a way to get their hands on it if you aren’t watching them.” Be careful with irons, and with pans on a hot stove where a handle is within a child’s reach. Dr. Likes says he’s seen a lot of scald injuries, and that hand and facial burns are two of the worst kinds in terms of complications and cosmetic damage.

5. Use properly installed carseats.

The great news: Car seats really can save children’s lives, said Dr. Likes. Even in horrific car accidents, Dr. Likes said he has never seen an infant properly restrained in the back seat die. To find out more information about specific car seat and booster guidelines by age, visit Click it Utah at clickitutah.org/.

This is the first in a two-part series on children and the emergency room. Check back April 13 for Dr. Likes’ advice on when sick children need medical care, and when they can recover at home.

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Elyssa Andrus has worked as a journalist for 14 years, most recently as the lifestyle editor at the Daily Herald newspaper in Provo. She is a contributor to the KSL-TV show "Studio 5" and is co-author of the book "Happy Homemaking" (Cedar Fort, 2012) with Natalie Hollingshead. She lives with her husband and four young children in Utah Valley.

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