Top Five Ways Children Are Dying Accidentally

With preventable deaths at an all-time high, NSC calls on parents to use National Safety Month to assess the greatest threats to young children’s safety.

June 04, 2018

Itasca, IL – Preventable, accidental injuries are the third leading cause of death for the first time in United States history, and children, sadly, are not immune. National Safety Council data analysis released this month on Injury Facts show more than 2,000 children younger than 4 are killed each year accidentally. The five leading causes of these deaths – suffocation, motor vehicle crashes, drowning, fires and choking – may be top of mind for parents, but may not enter the national conversation as frequently as they should.

Because of the alarming upward trend in preventable deaths, NSC is placing a particular emphasis on young child safety and parent education during National Safety Month, observed each June.

“In order to end preventable deaths in our lifetime, our work must begin at birth,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “Protecting our children is a down payment on our future. This National Safety Month, I hope all new parents will consider the data and take simple steps to ensure No One Gets Hurt – especially our most precious citizens.”

The National Safety Council encourages parents to use National Safety Month as a reminder to prioritize safety. Critical information includes:

  • Suffocation: In 2016, 1,056 children up to age 4 died of mechanical suffocation, losing the ability to breathe due to strangulation or smothering, often during sleep. Check cribs and sleeping areas to make sure they are free of items that could suffocate a child, including stuffed animals and bumper pads.
  • Car crashes: That same year, 511 children ages 4 and younger died in motor vehicle incidents. Secure children in the back seat of vehicles in child seats that are appropriate for their age, weight and height, and make sure seats are properly installed.
  • Drowning: 463 children died from drowning. Enroll children in swimming classes as soon as they are old enough, and supervise bath time.
  • Fire: 116 children died from fires. Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in the sleeping areas of everyone in the family, including babies and children, and change the batteries at least once each year.
  • Choking : 85 children died from choking. Provide your child with age-appropriate toys, and make sure there are not small pieces that could be removed or broken off and pose choking risks.

NSC developed tip sheets for each of the five greatest safety hazards facing children age 4 and younger. Parents and caregivers are urged to download the materials and assess their own homes, habits and practices by visiting nsc.org/toprisksforkids.

Find more about National Safety Month, including additional resources for parents and caregivers, at nsc.org/nsm. The Council thanks its in-kind National Safety Month partner organizations – American Ladder Institute, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Council on Aging, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, National Organizations for Youth Safety and SADD – for their support and shared commitment to eliminating preventable deaths.

About the National Safety Council
The National Safety Council is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact.

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With a century-long legacy, the National Safety Council is a global center for safety expertise. Let's work together to align resources. We look forward to learning about ways we can join efforts to expand safety everywhere!

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