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Jill Hobbs, BS, RDN, LD, Child Care Health Consultant (Region 7)

I feel confident in saying no caregiver ever wants an accident to happen. Below are some tips to help avoid some of the most common and critical injuries that can happen in an early care and education setting.

Abuse prevention

Active supervision is key to preventing abuse among children. It is important to identify blind spots in outdoor play areas and ensure that at least one adult is always present in all child care environments.

Unfortunately, children are sometimes abused by adults in early care and education settings. The 2019 Prevention Resources Guide from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services identified common risk factors for abuse (focusing primarily on parent-child relationships, though they apply to any caregiver). The risk factors include lack of experience, unrealistic expectations, stress, substance use, intergenerational trauma and isolation.

See a sample abuse prevention policy

Find more abuse prevention tips

Outdoor play injury prevention

Common injuries in outdoor play areas include broken bones, cuts and scrapes, entrapment, strangulation, head injuries and drowning.

Significant injuries can be prevented by :

  • Providing adequate surface fill under and around any toy with a height of 1 foot or more 
  • Ensuring there are no gaps along fence lines and that fences are securely closed
  • Having children remove loose strings, purses, necklaces, etc. that can get caught on equipment
  • Checking outdoor play areas daily for water accumulation
  • Making sure children wear secure helmets when using riding toys
  • Actively supervising at all times

For more tips, contact a Certified Outdoor Play Inspector or become certified through a nationally recognized program.

Choking prevention

Choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional injury death as recorded by the National Safety Council. You can prevent choking by:

  • Cutting food into ¼-inch pieces for toddlers and ½-inch pieces for preschool-aged children
  • Actively sitting with children and encouraging choking prevention behaviors, such as waiting to talk until food has been swallowed and taking appropriate-sized bites
  • Urging children to stay seated while eating

Poisoning Prevention

Three in five accidental medicine poisonings involving young children happen because the medication was not in its usual storage location and instead accessible to children.

Important ways to prevent poisoning are: 

  • Keeping hazardous chemicals and medications out of the reach of children
  • Never describing medications as candy