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Updated: 1/14/2003 2:29 pm
If a child has suffered a serious fall, contact a pediatrician, or call 9-1-1. When there's an apparent injury to the neck, spine, or leg, don't move the child. If the extremity (ex-TREM-uh-tee) is swollen or tender, there may be a broken bone. There are some safety measures you can take in your house and away from home to minimize the chances of a child having a serious fall. Never leave a baby unattended in high places, such as on a tabletop or in a crib with the sides down. Use gates at the top and bottom of stairways, install window guards, and lock doors to rooms that have furniture that a child might climb on. Guard against falls from playground equipment, such as slides and jungle gyms. Make sure the equipment is in good shape, and that the child is old enough to use it and knows how to use it properly. There should be soft material, such as mulch or wood chips, underneath any playground equipment from which children can fall. Protective clothing, such as long pants, can help, as well. If children are learning to walk, make sure their footwear isn't contributing to problems with standing upright and in balance. While any serious fall should be given immediate attention, recognize that falling down is a part of childhood. Many falls are minor, and overprotecting children may inhibit their natural drive to explore and make them unnecessarily fearful.

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