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Center for Injury Research and Policy

Children’s Safety Center Protects Families from Leading Causes of Injury

Twenty years ago, when Donna Huggins was a young mother, her daughter Davina fell down her basement stairs. Fortunately, no serious injuries occurred, though the experience left the family terrified. This summer, Donna, Davina—who is now a mother of her own—and 7-month-old Ny’El visited the Children’s Safety Center (CSC) at the Harriet Lane Clinic to prevent history from repeating itself.

“[Ny’El] is not walking yet, but just knowing the gate is there makes us feel better,” said Donna. “I still peek whenever I hear noises. Also, I have other grandchildren and it just helps to keep them all safe.”

Falls account for almost 2.8 million injured children each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fortunately, they can be prevented, and health educators at the CSC are working hard not just to inform families of the No. 1 non-fatal injury cause for children, but also provide them the tools to prevent them.

Thanks to an award from the Injury Free Coalition for Kids and the Toys “R” Us Pacesetter’s program, the CSC is distributing stair gates to prevent young children from falls on and around stairs in the home.

“We are so grateful for the opportunity from the coalition to provide even more in our community with life-saving safety products,” said Eileen McDonald, MS, Director of the CSC. Stair gates cost between $10-50 at regular retail stores, putting them out of reach of many of our families.  The Pacesetter’s award allowed the safety center to distribute gates free of charge to families in need.

From August through October, CSC health educator Kisha Price and staff met with families of children younger than one year old to educate them on fall safety and assess if they had unprotected stairs in their homes.  The team provided hardware-mounted gates for the top of stairs and pressure-mounted gates for use at the bottom of stairs.

But distributing stair gates isn’t the only way that the CSC team promotes safety among the families who receive care at the Harriet Lane Clinic. Opened in 1997, the first-of-its-kind safety center provides interactive educational displays, free expert and tailored safety advice, and access to other low- or no-cost safety products.

In addition to the CSC, which serves only families affiliated with the Johns Hopkins Harriet Lane Clinic, the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy also has the CARES (Children ARE Safe) Mobile Safety Center, a 40-foot vehicle designed as a house on wheels. The Cares Mobile Safety Center is available to visit Baltimore City neighborhood fairs, community events, and school and church events to educate visitors about the hidden injury risks in the home and provide families with free safety fact sheets and an inventory of reduced-cost safety products.

“Many people think keeping kids safe is common sense but it can’t be until injury prevention is common knowledge and safety products are available to all,” said McDonald. “Whether it’s through our recent stair gate giveaway or at one of the hundreds of CARES Mobile Safety Center stops throughout the year, we’re dedicated to sharing important lessons for keeping the entire family safe.”

To learn more about the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Johns Hopkins Children’s Safety Center, or to schedule a visit by the CARES Safety Center, please visit the Center’s website