Finger and thumb amputations continue to be a substantial source of injury to young children. A study recently published in the January issue of the Journal of Trauma has reiterated the need for improved safety measures and child proofing to decrease these injuries. Luckily, many of these measures are fairly easy and low cost child proofing devices.
Although given all the media hype, one might think that strollers pose the biggest finger amputation risk to young children, however, the culprit is in fact something much more common and often overlooked -- doors.
In young children ages 0-2 years, the leading cause of finger amputations is having a finger caught in a door. As any parent of a toddler can attest to, young children are fascinated with opening and closing doors. Doors pose a hazard not just to the child operating the door but also to other children who may place their fingers unknowingly in the rear door jam when someone is about to close the door. Doors can also fly shut suddenly and forcefully because of wind severing a small finger that was in the door jam at the time.
There are a number of products on the market to prevent doors from closing. One of the easiest devises is made by KidCo and aptly called the Finger Guard. It is a clear or gray rubber device that is non-marking and no adhesive strips are needed to install it. It simply slips onto to the back of the door and prevents it from closing. It is easily taken on and off and thus can be used only when needed. Another similar product is placed on the front part of the door. This again prevents the door from closing, however it is less effective at preventing injuries to fingers in the rear door jam. Either of these devices can be easily packed to bring with you on vacation in order to quickly child proof hotel rooms or a grandparent's house.
Other products are available that act as a door catch holding the door open. These are great for windy areas and don't need to be taken on or off to close the door, ensuring that they are used more often. One such product is the Magnetic Door Stopper from Home Depot. The downside to these devices is that as your children get older they will be strong enough to close the door despite the catch.
When deciding which products work best for your home remember that child proofing is an ongoing process and that as your children grow, what was once sufficient may need no longer do an adequate job of keeping them safe. A watchful eye is always important but in the case of finger amputations these injuries happen in a second and without proper child proofing even the most vigilant parent will probably not get there in time to prevent the injury.