Are New Hampshire’s Children Healthiest? Maybe It’s the Wrong Question
The 2010 Kids COUNT Data Book released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation acknowledges that unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for children and teens, and that they are largely preventable.
Media buzz about this report on key indicators of child well-being has focused on its ranking of states as most and least healthy (New Hampshire and Mississippi respectively), and on the effect of the economic down-turn on such indicators as poverty rate and low birth weight babies.
The key indicators of Child Death Rate and Teen Death Rate got little media attention. But the report emphasizes that unintentional deaths “are the leading cause of death of children ages 1-14,” as well as a major source of ED visits and hospitalizations, that for teens they “continue to account for at least 3 times or more the number of deaths from any other single cause, including homicide,” and declares that of the 13,299 deaths in 2007 of teens aged 15-19, “virtually all of these deaths were preventable.”
And while the effect of poverty and the economy on children’s well being has received much attention, thousands of deaths and injuries from motor vehicle crashes, fire, burns, and poisonings could be prevented--at little or no cost.
So maybe the question to ask is: “What can we do to prevent child and teen deaths, in every state, no matter what the economy?
It costs nothing to:
- Press the test button on your smoke alarm to make sure it’s still working;
- Put away matches or lighters in a high cabinet or locked drawer, out of sight and reach of children;
- Turn off portable space heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep;
- Plan a home fire drill;
- Put away household cleaners and medications in a place that is out of sight and reach of children;
- Clear clutter from hallways and exits;
- Wear a seat belt;
- Not text or phone while driving;
- Not drink and drive.
It costs next to nothing to:
- Install a smoke alarm; ($5.99, or many fire departments will provide one for free)