A Safe Holiday is a Happy Holiday: Avoiding Preventable Injuries in Children


preventable injuries

The holiday season is in full swing, and the hustle and bustle of this time of year is upon us. As moms, our to-do-lists are endless, and we are preparing for meals, gifts, visitors, events, parties, and other festivities. In all of our planning, we can’t prepare for the unexpected. We do all we can to keep our children safe and healthy and cross our fingers crossed that we are spared a last-minute trip to the doctor.

Injuries and illness with children are inevitable as they explore or play. This is especially true around the holiday season when children are home from school and have extended play, or as gifts with fast wheels arrive under the tree. John Killian, MD, pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Ascension Sacred Heart and Studer Family Children’s Hospital, shares his tips on how to prevent injury with our little ones. 

Avoiding ‘Preventable Injury’ is Key

Dr. Killian and I discussed four important strategies to avoid ‘preventable injury’ in children and how to assess your child’s injury to avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room.  

1) Choose age-appropriate toy gifts- especially those with wheels 

“Anything with wheels, from skateboards to ATVs, presents special challenges to children whose motor skills may not be equal to what is required for that toy,” explains Dr. Killian. “The skill of the child should match the toy they are given,” he adds, “oftentimes children do not have the balance or coordination to anticipate potential problems like flaws in the concrete or how fast they are going.”

2) Wear safety equipment 

New scooters, bikes, or motorized wheels are popular gifts during the holidays. Dr. Killian stresses to always wear helmets, knee, and elbow pads with any toy that is moving. “The helmet should cover the back of the head, and the chinstrap fits securely. When purchasing helmets, look for safety standards, testing, and federal standards to be printed on the box or instructions to ensure they are approved for the rigor of activity,” advises Dr. Killian. 

3) Age-matched play

As friends and family gather for the holidays, children participate in more playtime with cousins or playmates. As the range of ages grows in the playgroup, Dr. Killian encourages parents to educate the older children to watch the younger ones and match their style and ability of play. Oftentimes, injuries can occur when little ones try to ‘keep up’ with an older and more skilled playmate. 

4) Watch for fatigue

“Oftentimes preventable injuries occur when the child is overly tired,” explains Dr. Killian. He continues, “you know your child best, and when to encourage rest during a busy day with friends and family.”

What to Look for When an Injury Occurs

Judging an injury can be a tough job when it comes to a momma’s heart. However, there are key signs that indicate when a trip to the emergency room or urgent care is needed. Dr. Killian advises inspecting the injured area for any obvious deformity. (If present, proceed to the emergency room). Swelling and refusal to bear weight are often immediate, if a fracture has occurred,

If there is not a deformity, provide an ice pack, and elevate the extremity. If needed, try to temporarily immobilize the affected area by using a towel or ace bandage. 

“Assess your child’s reaction for the next 2-4 hours and reassess their injury after that time.  If your child has prolonged fussiness, is not easily distracted six hours after the injury, or your child experiences stiffness, increased swelling, or decreased range of motion, call your pediatrician to ask about a possible x-ray,” Dr. Killian suggests.

If your child needs care right away over the holidays, the Children’s Hospital is open 24/7 with locations near you – including pediatric emergency care at the Pensacola hospital campus and the new Pediatric ER at Nine-Mile Road. 

Ascension Sacred Heart has strict safety precautions in place at all locations to help keep you safe while in their care. And as Northwest Florida’s only children’s hospital, they connect you to the right follow-up care, including appointments with the right specialists, rehabilitation therapy, and more.

Meet John Killian, MD

Dr. John Killian MD

John Killian, MD, and Sharon Mayberry, MD, joined the Studer Family Children’s Hospital team earlier this year to care for complex orthopedic pediatric patients in the Pensacola area. “It is very exciting to grow this program with Ascension, the Studer Family Children’s Hospital, and the Pensacola community,” he says.  

Dr. Killian spent twenty years in private practice in Birmingham and has a decorated career, including serving as Commander in the US Naval Medical Corps, Chief of Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Alabama, former president of the Alabama Orthopaedic Society, and is a published research author.

He diagnoses and treats injuries and birth defects of children’s bones and joints, including fractures, polydactyly, torticollis, hip dysplasia, bowlegs, knock-knees, cerebral palsy, and scoliosis.

We have partnered with Ascension Sacred Heart to bring relevant and important information to Pensacola Mom Collective readers through this sponsored post.


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