Simple steps to injury prevention

Dr. Lynne Warda Pediatric Emergency Medicine Specialist, Injury Prevention Expert and Associate Professor, Pediatrics and Child Health
Last updated: Jul 4, 2024

July 5 marks the eighth National Injury Prevention Day in Canada, raising awareness about the devastating effects of predictable and preventable injuries.

What does that mean?

Most of us tend to think that injuries are a result of unavoidable accidents, but as a physician, I’ve seen many preventable injuries and the regrets that follow, but we can change that to no regrets. 

We can do simple things, like slowing down, paying attention, not using the phone while driving, putting on a helmet, wearing a life jacket, watching for pedestrians and cyclists, storing medication and substances such as cannabis away from kids, and using the right tools and safety equipment. These simple steps can help prevent injuries. I recommend Pre​ventable​.ca to learn even more about injury prevention.

Injury is the No. 1 cause of death for Canadians ages 1 to 44.

Additional quick facts from Parachute:

  • Preventable injury kills more Canadian children than any disease, and more youth than all other causes combined.

  • 75% of injury-related deaths are from unintentional causes, such as falls, car crashes and poisonings.

  • Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths, hospitalizations, emergency department visits and disabilities in Canada.

How do you find the balance between bubble-wrap parenting and giving children the freedom to explore and build their confidence? 

The most important things are knowing your child’s skills and development, and understanding the environment. Risk changes over time as your child learns, grows and gains more experience with the world. What is risky at one age is low risk when your child is older.

Some measures are non-negotiable, like buckling up and using the right car or booster seat, even on the shortest trip, and helmets for cycling, skateboarding, scootering and rollerblading. For water safety, this means making sure your children are always within arm’s reach when in or near water, and if you’re on the water, making sure everyone’s wearing a life jacket.

Here are a few more tips to help keep kids safe:

Playground safety — Take a look at playground equipment to make sure it’s in good condition and has rubber surfacing or deep loose surfacing to cushion falls. Show kids how to use the equipment safely, like sliding down feet first. Be there for your younger children, but allow them to explore the outdoors to develop their movement skills. 

Bike safety — Make sure your child has a properly fitted helmet and is wearing it correctly. Anyone less than 18 years of age in Manitoba must wear a helmet while cycling. Use one marked with an approved safety standards symbol.

Water safety — Pool or beach, adult supervision is essential. Wearing an approved life jacket is a must when boating. Manitoba Parks encourages park visitors, especially boaters, children, and weak swimmers, to wear properly sized life jackets. You can even borrow life jackets in select parks. Using large inflatables on open water is not advised, as wind or water currents can carry your child further away from shore. 

Car seat safety — Use car and booster seats based on your child’s height and weight, and check that they are installed correctly.

Home safety - Get on your child’s level to see through their eyes and identify hazards that you might not notice as an adult in an adult-sized world. Secure furniture to the walls to prevent tipping injuries, keep things like cleaners, yard care and pool chemicals out of reach, and install window guards and stair gates as needed. 

Discover how to prevent injuries before they happen.

Parachute has a full library of injury prevention resources to help. 

For a quick view of how to prevent summer injuries, check out this great infographic from Shared Health.

Thinking ahead and taking simple steps to prevent injuries is an important part of enjoying the carefree days of summer.