Parents and guardians try to carefully choose the right daycare with an eye to keeping their child or children safe from harm. Childcare settings are all about educating children through games and activities. But when something goes wrong, you might begin to question every detail of what goes on at your child’s daycare. Children are energetic and carefree, so teachers and caregivers need to be ready for anything. Unfortunately, for some families, daycare accidents can turn into trips to the hospital. Accidents at daycare can cause a child to suffer a broken bone, a concussion, or worse – and you may be worried sick about what it means for your child, your family, and your finances.
While some accidents are unavoidable, many more could be prevented if daycare employees, facility leaders, and other people who interact with kids follow proper safety guidelines, eliminate hazards, and supervise responsibly.
Who’s Responsible When Your Child is Injured?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of the United States includes approximately 21 million children under the age of five. While some parents are able to stay home with their children before they enter kindergarten, these days, many, if not most, rely on daycares to watch their kids while they work.
There are many different types of daycare facilities, including those who provide childcare in their own home. However, all have a duty to protect the children they care for and keep them safe, which means they can be held responsible for injuries that take place due to negligence. Whether they “stepped away for a few minutes” or the child suffered an injury because the facility itself was unsafe, whoever runs the daycare is expected to take every precaution to make sure a child isn’t injured due to potential hazards such as:
- Loose handrails going up and down the stairs
- Wet floors
- Unsafe playground equipment
- Falling objects
- Ladders and other tools that aren’t properly stored away
- Chemicals accessible to children
- Medications not stored properly
- Unsafe sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots (such as snow and ice, holes, etc.)
- Uneven, crumbling, or dangerous walkways, doorways an hallways;
- Unsafe and defective toys;
- Bookshelves and television stands that have not been properly mounted to the wall.
- Children left unsupervised
- Access to a swimming pool without a lifeguard or parent present
If the worst does happen and your child suffers some sort of injury, caregivers are required to immediately report the accident to the parents.
Daycare Accidents In Texas
According to federal statistics, injuries are the leading cause of death and disability for very young children in the state of Texas, in part because they have the highest risk of injuries. However, different age groups seem to be more susceptible to different types of injuries. For instance, poisoning seems to be most common among toddlers, while pre-schoolers seem to be the most likely drowning victims. Likewise, school-age children are most vulnerable to pedestrian accidents.
In most cases, most injuries to children, regardless of the reason or the location, are preventable, and that injury is usually dependent on the presence of adequate adult supervision for the circumstances.
Most of the time your child or children spend at their daycare facility is probably spent indoors, inside the facility. Daycare owners and managers must balance the environment, keeping in mind a child’s natural curiosity, while fulfilling their need for freedom to explore their surroundings by keeping the indoor facilities properly maintained with that in mind. Even infants need some time outside of the confinement of a crib or high chair and be allowed to explore their surroundings safely. That means making sure the indoor environment is safe overall and is kept that way. For any indoor environment, that means always making sure to do of all of the following:
- Make sure there are no sharp and/or breakable items in the pathways
- All cleaning products, medications and other possible toxins are locked away
- Keeping toys with small parts/choking hazards away from children under the age of three
- Inspecting all toys daily to make sure they have not developed sharp edges or loose pieces and dispose of those toys that have.
- Inspect all doors, gates and other safety barriers to make sure they are secure and;
- Check every inch of the area to make sure that all sharp edges are covered and remain that way.
It is also necessary for a child’s development to make sure they get outside occasionally, so all daycare facilities should take all precautions necessary to keep children safe, including the following:
- Make sure all playground equipment is age-appropriate
- Make sure the playground surface is soft and resilient enough to help cushion falls.
- Make sure the playground is either fenced in or has some other type of safety barrier around it.
- There should be outdoor safety rules in place and daycare personnel should make every effort to make sure all kids know and follow them.
- Make sure children never cross the street without adult supervision.
In most cases, when a child gets injured while at daycare, it was an accident. The most common injuries that occur in a daycare setting are unintentional, but they can often be the result of negligence on the part of the daycare. Even accidents can result in serious consequences. Some injuries from such accidents can be serious and if they were caused by someone else’s negligence, you should not bear that burden by yourself.
The Most Common Injuries From Daycare Accidents
Perhaps not surprisingly, falls are the leading cause of injuries to children at daycare, with almost 60 percent of such injuries happening on the playground, where kids tumble over each other to get to the slide and the monkey bars. Often, children fighting with each other to get to toys, where kids tend to fall down left and right as they climb over each other to get to the slide and struggle to make it across the monkey bars. Sometimes, furniture and toys are involved in children getting injured at daycare. Two kids fighting over a toy might trip over another toy that us lying on the ground and hit their head on the way down to the ground. It is the responsibility of the daycare supervisor to step in before that happens, but sometimes these things happen so fast that they can’t get there in time.
Other injuries that definitely indicate oversight or carelessness, but can still be considered unintentional, are when a child gets cut by a sharp edge, burned by a hot surface or hot water or poisoned by toxic materials. It’s also worth noting that sometimes children get injured in a car or bus while being transported to an outside location for a field trip.
If your child comes home with unexplained and/or repeated injuries, or injuries that don’t make sense, like bruises in the shape of an object or broken bones in a child who is incapable of walking or climbing, this might be an indication of abuse. If you have any suspicions that your child is being abused at daycare, don’t hesitate to contact local police as soon as possible.