Hesperian Health Guides

Injuries and Accidents

In this chapter:

Children have more injuries and accidents than adults, and for the most part, treatment for accidents and injuries is the same for children as for adults. Learn how to treat specific injuries in First Aid.

The most common injuries for children can often be prevented.


Choking is a serious problem for children under 2 years old. If the child is coughing or can make sounds, watch closely until she coughs the object out. If the child cannot cough or make noise, immediately give back blows and chest thrusts, or for a child over 1 year, give back blows and abdominal thrusts to force the object out.

Round, firm pieces of food are the most common causes of choking in small children. Avoid giving children hard candy, nuts, large seeds, chunks of meat or cheese, or chunks of raw vegetables. Food for small children is safest when it is cooked well and ground or cut up into small pieces.

A baby reaching for some small balls
Small toys, balls, coins, and balloons are common causes of choking and should be kept away from little children.


Poisons, including pesticides and home cleaners, should be kept on high shelves or in locked cabinets where children cannot get them. For more information on how to treat different types of poisonings, see the poisoning charts.

A mop and bucket
A 1 year old can get stuck in a bucket and drown.


A child can drown in a pond, drainage ditch, or even a bucket of water. Small children should always be watched when close to water. Older children, especially boys, often drown because of lack of caution when swimming in rough or deep waters. Making sure paths near and bridges over waterways are safe, and teaching all children to swim are important ways to keep your community safe.


Burns can be prevented by keeping children away from stoves, hot pots and pans, fires, and lamps. But when burns do happen, it is important to treat them quickly, both for pain relief and to prevent infection, which can be severe after a burn. Some serious burns do not hurt a lot because of the nerve damage they cause in the skin. Even with no pain, they should still be treated.

Vehicle accidents

leftalt=Two adults and two children wearing helmets and riding a motorcycle
Protect your child’s head with a helmet. And be there to protect your child by wearing one yourself.

Helmets and seatbelts can prevent many injuries and deaths from motorcycle, bicycle, and car accidents. By making roads safe for people walking and riding bicycles, many more injuries and deaths can be prevented.


Violence and abuse of children is a common and serious problem and can cause lasting harm to the
child – not just in the body, but also in the mind and heart. Keeping children safe from abuse is every adult’s responsibility. To learn to identify signs of abuse and for more on this complicated subject, see Violence (in development).

This page was updated:25 Nov 2019