As much as we may try to avoid the climbing of stairs while toting around the twins, laundry and toys, for most homes a level up is inevitable–indoors or out. JoNel Aleccia’s MSNBC article, “Hurt on the stairs: A child is treated every 6 minutes in the U.S.,” brings to light the shocking realization that, on average, a child younger than five years old is treated for stair-related injuries every six minutes in a U.S. emergency department.
The article highlights the research of Dr. Gary A. Smith, director of the center for injury research and policy for Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, marked the first nationally representative study of stair injuries in young kids. It estimated that more than 93,000 kids a year get stair injuries.
JoNel’s article relives the accounts of moms whose kids got injured. One mom quoted is Candice Johnson, whose daughter suffered a skull fracture after Candice tripped on a set of stairs due to a broken flip-flop. Another mom had to let go of one of her twins when she knew they were all about to fall down her stairs. Letting one twin go prevented the mom and her other baby from falling, but the mom harbors guilt from that decision, over three years later.
Stair Safety Precautions
Accidents happen and they can’t always be controlled. But avoiding stair-related incidents can be minimized with a few extra precautions. For those trying to “do too much,” keep a basket near the stairs to drop all those “extras” in your hands. Take your child safely down the stairs and go back for the other items. Sturdy banisters can also make a difference.
Lynda of Multiple Births: Prenatal Education, offers some useful tips for dealing with stair safety:
If you have stairs in your home, it is beneficial to begin teaching them as soon as they are crawling to go down backwards.
Absolutely no pushing, shoving or running on the stairs. Many siblings have been pushed too hard in play.
When walking down the stairs with children remember that kids, when they are speaking to you, will often stop and look up at you as they speak. If you are carrying something (such as a laundry basket) in your arms, it may block your view of your child as he stops to speak to you and you may inadvertently knock him down the stairs. A safer idea is for you to start down the stairs first, followed by your child(ren). In this way, if one trips, you are in a position to catch him.
Use gates and closed doors (perhaps locked) to seal off areas of the house where you don’t want them to go. For example: laundry room, garage, basement, exterior doors.