HOUSTON (December 01, 2009)

Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital specialist offers tips for keeping holidays fun and accident-free. The holiday season is in full swing as children bubble over with excitement and parents rush to buy gifts, organize parties and plan trips to visit family and friends. However, it takes only a moment for a child to sustain a devastating injury, turning holiday joy into tragedy.

"Most childhood injuries can be prevented if parents and caregivers focus on two things - anticipating risks and participating fully in observing children," said Stacey Moore-Olefumi, MD, surgeon at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital, home of the largest pediatric trauma center in the Gulf Coast region and one of only three Level 1 pediatric trauma centers in Texas.

In the Children's Memorial Hermann Emergency Center during the holiday season, specialists treat a variety of injuries ranging from bicycle accidents that result in cuts and bruises to car crashes that result in devastating head injuries. More than one-third of all injuries to children (36 percent) are falls, 12 percent involve motor vehicle accidents, 9 percent are burns, 8 percent are motor vehicle/pedestrian collisions and 4 percent are bicycle accidents."

Children are very quick and very creative, and an accident can happen in an instant," said Dr. Moore-Olefumi, who also is an assistant professor of pediatric surgery at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. "A parent might release a child's hand while walking to the car at the mall, and the child darts in front of a car; or a toddler could pull on the electrical cord to the TV and cause the TV to fall on them.

"Holiday activities, social commitments and children out of school and needing extra supervision also can cause significant stress to adults and caregivers. Family stressors play a part in 16 percent of holiday injuries to children.Parents can avoid losing patience with children by seeking additional family support, taking a moment to think before reacting to a child's behavior, and leaving the room when tempers flare."Planning, preparation and consistent supervision of youngsters can help families stay safe and injury-free during the busy holiday season and beyond," Dr. Moore-Olefumi said.

Tip Sheet: How to prevent common childhood injuries during the holidays

Falls

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor Vehicle/Pedestrian Crashes

Burns

Bicycle Injuries

Family Stressors