Background Our pediatric injury discharge surveillance data indicated that the highest incidence of burns, bicycle injuries and poisonings was within a 4 zipcode area of Birmingham. These data provided the foundation for a successful grant application to The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the establishment of an Injury Free Coalition for Kids (IFCK) site at our hospital. Year one IFCK objectives included increasing child safety awareness and education (an intermediate to reducing injury) in the high incidence “intervention” areas identified.
Methods An injury prevention fair was held in conjunction with the local health department in the intervention area. Along with providing educational material, bicycle helmets, a bike/pedestrian safety skills course, smoke detectors and appropriate child safety restraints, a survey was conducted of the families attending to assess their injury prevention awareness needs. Data were entered into Epistat.
Results 150 families participated with 52% being residents of the intervention area. 95% of those surveyed had preschool age children. Bicycle Safety: 66% reported no bike helmet for their child (financial constraints as primary barrier). Of the 34% who had a bike helmet, 30% reported routine use. Poison Prevention: 64% knew the poison center existed but only 29% said they would call the poison center if their child was exposed to a poison (7% would go straight to the emergency department). Motor Vehicle Safety: 79% had car seats, and 55% reported appropriate use of booster seats. Fire Safety: 128 persons answered the fire safety questions: 86% had a fire exit plan, but only 62% of those practiced it with their children. 92% had smoke detectors. Other Information: 33.3% of families reported an injury to one of their children within the past year (25% prevalence of injury among children nationally). Of the injuries in the past year, 23% were bicycle related and 53% related to a fall. 10% reported that at some time in their child's life, they required a hospital admission for an injury. Over 50% reported a prior ED use at our institution. 98% reported their child's immunizations were up to date. 25% reported a chronic illness.
Conclusion A significant number of children in the intervention area are injured each year (33% reported). Despite a large number of bike injuries, only a small percentage reported routine helmet use and a significant number reported not being able to afford a helmet. Families surveyed have smoke detectors and have thought about fire exit plans, but need to ensure that their smoke detectors work and that children know what to do in case of fire. The survey data have led to establishing a bike helmet bank, car seat services and promoting poison control center use at the area health department clinic.