Accidents happen and as much as we might wish we could put our kids in a bubble of safety, life doesn’t work that way. But certain activities are riskier than others and injury is still the leading cause of death for kids and teens in the U.S., according to the CDC. And unfortunately, a lot of these are preventable. Pediatricians who are also parents say these are the things they’d never let their own kids do because of the risk of injury or death.
- Ride in the front seat before they turn 13 - Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of unintentional injury and death in the U.S., the CDC reports. Because of this, experts say kids should always be in the backseat in a car seat, a booster seat or seatbelt. Dr. Katie Lockwood says her kids won’t ride in the front until they’re 13, the recommended age it’s okay to do so. “The (front) airbags are potentially dangerous to children, whose skeletons are still developing and aren’t the right size to be in the front,” she explains, adding that airbags can cause rib fractures, punctured lungs and injuries to the head, neck and spine.
- Jump on trampolines - Dr. Ee Tay says public trampolines or trampoline parks are off-limits for her kids. “There’s just so many broken bones and orthopedic injuries,” she says, adding that the “uncontrolled environment and greater number of kids” also increases the risk of collisions and falls. Safer options include trampolines that are in-ground or have safety nets around them.
- Ride an ATV - “My kids will never, ever go on an ATV … they are so dangerous,” Dr. Tay says. All-terrain vehicles don’t require training or a license and kids aren’t always able to judge speed or distance, plus the ATVs can easily flip over.
- Swim alone - “More children ages 1 to 4 die from drowning than any other cause of death (per the CDC),” says Lockwood. These experts recommend teaching kids how to swim as early as possible, but even after they learn, they should always have a “water watcher” adult keeping tabs on them.
- Ride anything without a helmet - If it has wheels, Lockwood won’t let her kids ride it without a helmet. Tay agrees, adding, “There are too many injuries that we see in the ER for something that can be very easily prevented with (head) protection.”
- Go to a house without asking about firearms - “Firearm injury has now exceeded motor vehicle collision injury as a cause of child mortality,” says Dr. Marc Auerbach, professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at Yale School of Medicine. So these experts need to know if there are guns and that they’re safely stored, before letting their child go to the house.