Experience is a good teacher. And children who have been injured in accidents have important words of advice for other children.
Some of that advice has been compiled into a book called "Now I Know Better: Kids Tell Kids About Safety," put together by the Yale-New Have Children's Hospital. Here's what some kids have learned:
Billy Alexander, 13: An older neighbor asked Billy and his brother if they wanted to cut down a few tree branches in her front yard. The boys decided to use two axes they found in their garage. "I was wearing sandals that day and kept them on for the job. I was very careful because it was my first time using an ax. I had not thought of putting on proper footwear." Things went well until "I was chopping a big branch and swung too hard. It went smoothly through the branch and right in my foot. . . . I learned that you should always wear proper footwear when you're using sharp tools, especially axes. I would advise you to have someone with you when you use an ax."
Brenton Sutton, 12: "I was about 7 years old, riding my neon Huffy bicycle down a steep hill, when suddenly my shoelace became loose, but I didn't know it. My shoelace got caught in the back spokes, and I crashed. At the time, I never wore my helmet. I was not alerted that my skull got broken. I saw lots of blood on my legs. Blood was coming out of all my cuts and scratches. I couldn't even feel my legs. I went up to touch my head, as I seemed dizzy. When my hand came down, it was full of blood. I really thought I wouldn't live." Brenton was lucky in that he only had a minor skull fracture and some cuts that needed a few stitches. "My message to kids is to always wear you helmet when you're riding your bicycle."
Ricky B. Jones, 7: "Once upon a time there was a kid in a car whose mom was coming home from work. The kid wasn't even born yet. He was in his mom's belly. Suddenly another car flew across the road the other direction. Both cars crashed and were blasted to smithereens. There were police ambulances, police cars, fire engines . . . everybody! Luckily the two drivers were hardly hurt. Why weren't they dead? Because they were wearing their seat belts! The kid was not hurt at all. So what does this teach you? Always wear your seat belt. How do I know? Because I was that kid."
Katelyn Melina, 13: Katelyn thought she was not allergic to poison ivy. She was playing with some friends when they spotted the plant, and she bragged that it did not affect her. "They didn't believe me and told me to rub it up and down my arms. Since I believed that I couldn't catch it, I decided to go along with the dare. Never have I made a bigger mistake in my life. I came down with the worst poison ivy case! I had it on my hands, on my legs, on my stomach, back, chest and face. It was between my toes and even in my ears. I looked like a big blister. I had poison ivy for one-and-a-half months. I had to go for shots and use special cream for ages. . . . I should have never followed through with the dare. Also, even if you are not allergic to poison ivy when you're little or at any point in your life, it never means that you can't become allergic to it."
Kristen Kelly, 10: Kristen Kelly and some friends went to the park to go skating. Her mother told her to wear her helmet, and she put it on. But after her mom left to go play tennis, Kristen took off her helmet. "My friend wanted to race so I said 'OK.' We were going so fast that I almost hit a bench, but I turned instead. I hit a metal fence and hit my face right into it. . . . My nose was sprained. I had a huge bump on my forehead. . . . The next morning I went to the dentist to see if my gum and tooth were all right. . . . The worst thing was I had to go to school looking ugly. No one made fun of me but a lot of people asked me what was wrong. I told my mom that she didn't have to tell me what I did wrong. I should have had my helmet on no matter how it looked on me. So listen to your parents! They are experienced."
Hope Fleming, 8: "When I was about 3 I had an accident, and here it is. It was late at night. My mom told me to hop up the stairs so I tried to hop up the stairs, and I fell and had to get stitches. I could have asked her what she meant."
Anthony Dixon, 13: "Back when I was in the first grade, I was the type of person that always got into things. One day I saw a milk container on the counter, and it looked like it had water in it. I decided to pour some and drink it. As I started to drink it, I immediately realized it wasn't water. I went to ask my mom what it was and she said it was bleach. She made me gargle with water and spit it out." Anthony went to the hospital and found out he was lucky it was bleach and not some of the other cleaning products found at home. "Now we label all bottles or containers, if they're in a different bottle than usual."
Tara Cocchiarella, 11: "My story is about a dumb mistake that could have been prevented. Everyone's mom has probably told them to stop jumping on the bed. Well, I didn't stop. I insisted she was being unfair, and I could do what I wanted. It happened at my friend's house. We were jumping on his bed when his mom came in and told us to stop. Ignoring her warning, we continued jumping. It was then when I fell. Being only 4 at the time I thought nothing of it. Until the pain hit me like a ton of bricks. I immediately started crying. My friend's mother thought it was just a bruise. Little did we know I had broken my collarbone. . . . The accident taught me one thing, never go against your parents' wishes. They speak from experience."
Tina Garcia, 15: "One day my uncle went to a grocery store and left his 5-year-old and 11-year-old sons in the car while he rushed in to buy what he was going to buy. Well the boys found my uncle's gun, which was under the seat in the car. It was way tucked in there, but they found it and the gun was loaded. They were curious and started to play around with it, the oldest one holding the gun and pointing it around when we all heard a gun shot, which hit my younger cousin in the head. They rushed my cousin to Yale-New Haven Hospital, but it was too late. He died on the way. This was a terrible way to learn to never leave loaded guns around. The 11-year-old is not almost in his 20s and still feels what happened was his fault."