By Sally Robinson and Keith Bly

Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death in children. About 90 percent of all unintentional injuries in children can be avoided.

The five leading causes of injury death in children younger than 15 years old are motor vehicle injuries, fires and burns, drowning, firearms, poisoning and suffocation.

Practice the following safety tips to protect your child against accidents:

• Learn CPR;
• Safety-proof your home;
• Install and maintain safety devices in your home such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, handrails, safety gates on stairs and covers for electrical outlets;
• Store medicines, cleaners, chemicals and poisons out of children’s reach;
• Develop an escape plan in case of fire and make sure that each family member knows what to do in case of fire;
• If you own a gun, store it unloaded in a locked cabinet and store ammunition separately;
• Wear seat belts and make sure your child uses an approved car seat;
• Make a list of emergency phone numbers including local emergency medical services, the number for your child’s doctor, police and fire departments, and your local poison center and keep it in a visible place;
• Teach your child how to dial 911;
• Keep a well-stocked first aid kit at home and in your car;
• Make sure cords on drapes or blinds are out of your child’s reach;
• Turn pot handles inward when cooking on the stove and use back burners whenever possible;
• Make sure appliance cords do not dangle so that they cannot be pulled from the counter;
• Make sure that buckets, tubs or sinks containing water are not left in areas where young children may have access and that toilet lids are kept shut. • Teach your child to swim and supervise children while they swim or play in water;
• Teach your child not to get near animals he or she does not know;
• Watch your child at all times when they play on playgrounds. Make sure that they know the playground rules;
• Have your children wear CPSC-approved helmets and other safety gear when riding bikes, skating, skateboarding or riding scooters;
• Put babies to sleep on their backs. Make sure their crib sheets fit snugly. Do not put pillows, soft bedding or toys in your baby’s crib; and
• Do not allow your child to cross the street alone if he or she is younger than 10 and to look both ways before crossing the street. Teach your child to walk on sidewalks.

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital, and Keith Bly is an associate professor of pediatrics and director of the UTMB Pediatric Urgent Care Clinics. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.