Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death for children over the age of 1. The Pediatric Emergency Department at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital treats nearly 5,000 children each year for preventable injuries, including children who have fallen from bikes, been struck by cars, ingested household cleaners or medications, fallen from balconies or upper story windows, crashed on ATVs or snowmobiles, been hurt while sledding or skiing, or been involved in virtually any kind of accident imaginable. Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital believes that the best way to treat childhood injuries is to prevent them from happening in the first place by giving parents and caregivers the information and resources they need to keep kids safe.
The hospital’s wide array of injury prevention programs are clustered under the umbrella of the Rainbow Injury Prevention Center. The Center’s mission is to work directly with children and families through education and outreach to decrease injury risk and improve wellbeing. The Center is dedicated to sharing creative ideas, resources, and information with all members of the Greater Cleveland community interested in protecting children.
The Center’s resources include a lending library of health and safety information and access to specialists in a wide variety of injury prevention areas, including child passenger safety, bicycle and pedestrian safety, accidental firearm injuries, driving safety programs, fire safety, youth sports safety, and poison prevention. Low-cost resources, programs-to-go, information, and research are available for physicians, community partners, and the public. The Center, which serves as the lead agency for the Greater Cleveland Safe Kids/Safe Communities Coalition, is dedicated to working with the community to help reduce unintentional injuries and ensure that fewer children need the kind of specialized care Rainbow provides.
Staff from the Rainbow Injury Prevention Center put on hundreds of community programs each year. The Center’s injury prevention experts go out into the community to schools, child care centers, recreation centers, and community events to help children learn about the importance of buckling up, practice safe pedestrian skills, learn what to do in case of a fire, or identify other strategies to recognize everyday dangers and avoid injury.
“Teaching age-appropriate safety skills is important, but ultimately it’s the responsibility of parents and other caregivers to keep kids safe,” notes Kathryn Wesolowski, Manager of the Rainbow Injury Prevention Center. “We can talk to preschoolers about not eating or drinking anything without getting an adult’s permission, but that’s not enough to protect them from unintentional poisoning. We have to reach parents, too.” That’s why all of the Center’s outreach activities include components for adults. If Center staff conduct a bike safety program at a local school, for example, information goes home to parents describing what children learned and what parents can do to help prevent bike-related injuries.
The Center has programs that address all of the primary causes of childhood injury, including topics as varied as teen driver safety, fire safety, and bicycle safety.