Preventing at-home injuries and creating a routine during COVID-19

Mother treats her daughter's skinned elbow. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

With precautions, at-home injuries can be prevented. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

With schools closed across the country, children are spending their days at home with altered routines and under less supervision as parents try to balance working from home, homeschooling their children, and managing their new normal. Under these conditions, children are at an increased risk for an at-home injury.

Sandra McKay, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), explains why it is crucial for parents or caregivers to create a new routine for children and take proper steps to prevent an injury during the midst of a global pandemic.

“With children at home, and with stress running high for families, it is easy for parents to let their guard down when it comes to home safety,” said McKay, a pediatric specialist with UT Physicians. To protect kids from injury, she suggests parents be more aware of what they have in their home. This means parents should:

  • Lock up medicine
  • Put away cleaning supplies so they are not easily accessible
  • Secure firearms
  • Put up a safety gate on staircases or pools
  • Place locks on doors
  • Hide any adult beverages

“It is so important for parents to try and prevent any injuries from happening while at home because the last thing you want to do is take a trip to the ER during a pandemic,” said McKay. By taking precautions, at-home injuries can be prevented.

If a child gets hurt, and a parent is considering taking them to the ER, McKay suggests calling a pediatrician or the UT Physicians nurse triage line at 713-486-8876, so experts may help determine whether or not a visit is necessary. “Often times, injuries can be treated at home. However, if an injury such as a sprained ankle occurs, a pediatrician or nurse may be able to walk you through what to do so you can avoid going to the ER and minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19,” she said.

In addition to securing the household, it is also essential for parents to create a routine for everyone. A routine will help children be less restless and hopefully help prevent any injuries from happening.

“It is imperative that parents develop a new routine for children so they understand the rules and expectations while spending their full days at home,” she said.

Most school-aged children are accustomed to a routine. They wake up early, go to school, participate in any extracurricular activities, and go home to either do homework or play until it is time to wake up and do it all over again. Now, with the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order in place, children are expected to do their schoolwork at home with new teachers: their parents.

McKay says parents should make sure their children practice a similar routine at home. “Kids should get up, eat, and go to bed at their normal times,” she said. “Children and parents will both benefit from knowing what to expect and when to expect it. This will help create consistency and alleviate any unwanted stress factors as they transition into their new normal.”

To help, she suggests creating a schedule to review with the family each morning. It should include scheduled meals, time set to complete any schoolwork, break times and time for outdoor play. This will help children understand expectations and hopefully avoid any meltdowns.

“We are trying to prevent injuries from happening while spending our days at home. Finding that balance between routines and safe activities can benefit everyone,” McKay said.

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Written By
Jeannette Sanchez