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Accidents - Accidents and Tragedies

Child Safety Basics


Updated June 26, 2011

Accidents are a leading cause of death for children.

Leading the list of causes of accidental deaths are car accidents and drownings, followed by:

Surprisingly, these accidents lead to more deaths each year than the next nine leading causes of death in children combined, including cancer, heart disease, congenital birth defects, and infections.

That makes it important to raise awareness about the risk of accidents and makes child safety an essential part of parenting.

Accidents and Tragedies

From car accidents to falls, these headline-making accident stories are good examples of just how common childhood accidents can be, and are good reminders of how to prevent common accidents.

  • An 10-year-old in Georgia was killed in a lawn mower accident while cutting the grass and the mower some how ended up on top of him.

  • An 8-year-old in Kalamazoo County, Mich was hit by a car and died when his sled ended up in the road and in the path of an oncoming truck.

  • A 2-year-old in Island Lake, Illinois got out of the house while his father was asleep and drowned in a nearby lake.

  • A 12-year-old in Partridge, Kansas died during a hayrack ride after falling out of the front-end bucket of a tractor.

  • A 7-year-old boy in Garner, Kansas died after being hit by a car while crossing the street leaving school with his older sister.

  • A 2-year-old boy in Sterling Heights, Michigan drowned in the above-ground pool in family's backyard after he climbed a ladder into the pool by himself.

  • In a tragic farming accident, a 7-year-old boy in Sheldon, Wisconsin died when he became trapped in a feed bin as it was being filled.

  • A 2-year-old girl in Fort Worth, Texas fell off a second story balcony after going outside to get some toys and falling through the railing.

  • A 2-year-old girl in Florida was killed by the family's pet Burmese python after it escaped from its tank in the middle of the night and attacked her in her crib.

  • A 21-month-old boy drowned in a backyard swimming pool in Arlington, Texas.

  • A nine-year-old boy drowned at a water park in Rose City, Texas. He was swimming in a lake at the water park.

  • Two preschoolers in Arkansas died after getting trapped in a car trunk while playing, as outside temperatures reached the '90s. The 2000 Malibu they were found in did not have a glow-in-the-dark trunk release handle as newer cars built since 2002 have.

  • A 12-year-old boy in Virginia died after being struck by lightning while playing baseball with a friend. They remained on a baseball field playing catch after an umpire had called a game delay because there were storms and lightning in the area.

  • A 4-year-old girl in Arizona died after being strangled by a dangling cord on a treadmill.

  • A daycare worker in Arkansas mistakenly placed a bottle of windshield washer fluid in the refrigerator after a trip to the grocery store. It was later served to the children when the daycare worker thought it was Kool-Aid; misplaced/mistaken fluid is a common cause of childhood poisonings.

  • A toddler in Texas died when he was left in an SUV briefly with some other kids, got in the driver's seat, and put the car in gear. He jumped out when it started moving and was run over by the SUV.

  • A teenager in Cincinnati committed suicide after getting bullied by other students after her boyfriend revealed nude photos she had sent him on his phone. This case actually highlights many important teen issues -- suicide, bullying, and 'sexting.'

  • A 12-year-old boy died when the gun his father was cleaning accidentally went off.

  • A three-year-old in Texas drowned in the underground septic tank in her home's backyard after she likely fell through a missing tank cover.

  • Three teens in Dallas, including the driver who didn't have a driver's license, died in a car accident.

  • A dog in Arizona fatally mauled a two-week old baby after the baby was briefly left in her bassinet.

Preventing Accidents

Unfortunately, accidents happen and not all accidents can be prevented.

Remember, though, that the more chances you take, the more likely your child is to be injured or killed by an accident.

Reading up on these child safety tips, and hidden dangers that are often overlooked, can help you keep your child safe and help avoid accidents:

  • Childproof your home and consider using a layers of protection plan to keep your kids safe. Using multiple layers of protection, if one layer fails, another will still protect your kids from an accident or tragedy. For example, so that a toddler can't get out of the house without supervision, lock the door at all times, install child-resistant covers over the door knobs, and consider installing an alarm system that will beep whenever a door opens.

  • Install window gates or a window guard or wedge to keep kids from falling through window screens or open windows.

  • Store guns properly, which can include storing the gun unloaded in a locked cabinet or drawer, with the bullets locked separately.

  • Childproof your pool so that it is enclosed by a permanent fence (which is better than a removable pool fence) with a self-closing and self-latching gate that is difficult for younger children to open.

  • Keep all household poisons out of your child's reach and in a childproofed cabinet, and learn the number to poison control (1-800-222-1222).

  • Use a car seat or booster car seat properly, and don't let your kids play in or around your car. (Hot Cars Alert)

  • Beware of hidden hazards, such as home exercise equipment, falling televisions, soccer goals, elevators and escalators, shopping carts, bunk beds, and trampolines.

  • Avoid ATVs and letting your kids play with non-powder guns and other unsafe toys.

  • Teach kids not to approach unfamiliar dogs, and don't leave young kids around pets without supervision to help prevent dog bites.

  • If you hear thunder or see lightning, stop outdoor activities and find shelter inside a building or vehicle. Don't wait for it to rain, don't stay outside, and wait for at least 30 minutes after the last time you heard thunder or saw lightning to resume your child's outdoor activities.


National Center for Health Statistics, 2005, 10 Leading Causes of Death, United States 2005, All Races, Both Sexes.

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