By Jennifer Allison, Ph.D.
Director, Children's Safety Network
Rebekah Hunt, MPA
Training and Technical Associate, Children's Safety Network
Injury is a leading cause of child mortality and morbidity. In 2012, injuries resulted in more than 3,320 deaths and 4.3 million emergency department visits among zero to four year olds in the United States (CDC WISQARS). Home visitors can play an essential role in raising awareness about injury hazards, identifying risk and protective factors in the home, and teaching caregivers how to prevent injuries in a culturally competent and developmentally appropriate way.
For example, research shows that home visiting can be effective in reducing intentional injuries, such as child maltreatment. While this alone is an excellent reason to support the training of home visitors in injury prevention, home visiting also offers a strategic opportunity to prevent unintentional injuries that occur in and around the home, such as falls, drowning, burns and scalds, choking, and pedestrian injuries.
With the help of the Children's Safety Network, Massachusetts and New Hampshire have already begun implementing full or half-day trainings on injury prevention for home visitors. These trainings provide information about infant safe sleep, falls, poisoning, drowning, choking, burns and scalds, safe storage of weapons, and the prevention of motor vehicle crashes, as well as many other causes of injury. Using the public health model, home visitors learn to identify injury risk and protective factors, talk to families about those risks, and educate them about key injury prevention strategies by developmental stage.
Each trained home visitor also is equipped with resources and information, such as home safety checklists, hotline numbers, and infographics and pictures that illustrate injury risks, in order to help them work with families to reduce injury hazards and implement prevention strategies. In addition, the home visitors are provided with information about the American College of Preventive Medicine childhood injury risk assessment tool, developed in partnership with CDC, to assist them in working with families to improve child safety. The tool contains assessment questions and educational information on a wide range of injury topics.
If you are interested in learning more about incorporating injury prevention education into your state home visiting efforts, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For facts about injury prevention by topic, visit the Children's Safety Network website, and for visual communication tools on many injury topics, check out the Children's Safety Network Pinterest page.