Children's Center opens facility to boost safety Hopkins physicians seek to stop common injuries

March 28, 1997|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Curiosity kills children.

It is a painful lesson learned by millions of parents each year, doctors at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health have discovered. So to prevent preschoolers' playful ventures from causing them physical harm, physicians at Hopkins opened the nation's first Children's Safety Center yesterday.

"Our goal is to make it easier for parents to get the safety supplies they need," said Dr. George Dover, pediatrician-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Children's Center. "If we can get parents to walk into the center, maybe they won't have to walk into our emergency room with an injured child. No one wants to be in the business of treating poisoned children."

Devices such as smoke detectors, cabinet locks and adjustable stair gates are on sale at the safety center at cost. A health educator staffs the facility, in the Hopkins Children's Center at 600 N. Wolfe St., and teaches parents how to install the devices. When used properly, the gadgets can prevent deaths, poisonings and burns.

"When I came to Hopkins 25 years ago, the major health problem faced by children was infectious disease," Dover said. "Today it's injury. We have to go beyond setting broken bones and pumping stomachs -- we have to focus on prevention."

A pilot study conducted seven years ago by researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health prompted the creation of the safety center, which is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The study found that almost 4,000 children under 5 die each year because of injuries that most often occur in and around their homes.

"Injury is the most common cause of morbidity and mortality among children today, so we must focus on preventive care," said Dr. Peter Beilenson, city health commissioner.

Several mothers, with their toddlers in tow, attended the opening of the safety center yesterday.

"I've never seen cabinet locks before," said Gladys Williams, whose East Baltimore apartment is equipped with electrical outlet covers. She was at Hopkins yesterday with her 1-year-old daughter, Lisa.

"Lisa likes to get into everything, and she loves to play in the kitchen while I'm cooking," Williams said.

The safety center -- a project of the Hopkins School of Public Health and the Hopkins Children's Center -- has received financial support from Lowe's Home Safety Council, the Marion I. and Henry J. Knott Foundation, the Chesapeake Health Plan Foundation, the John Frederick Wiessner Foundation and Anshen and Allen Architects. Information: 410-614-5587.

Pub Date: 3/28/97

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