A Facebook video of the unsettling and alarming incident experienced by a 3-year-old on an escalator in 2017 is again making the rounds on the internet. Accountsof the accident vary, but the child’s hair and allegedly the child’s arm were caught between the last step and the bottom landing of an escalator in a mall in Davao. Reports say it happened when the toddler bent down to pick up a toy.
In the video, the child is shown lying at the bottom of the escalator crying inconsolably. The father is also crouched down attempting to comfort his child while they wait for help from mall personnel. The child's hair was cut and, according to a local site, the bottom landing had to be unscrewed to free the child's arm.
Children age 5 and below are the most likely to get in an escalator accident.
Not surprisingly, netizens then and now began pointing fingers and blaming the parent for negligence. But, better use of time and effort goes towards raising awareness and relearning the safety measures moms and dads can do and remember when riding escalators with kids. This accident reminds us that escalators can be dangerous for young kids.
In fact, in 2006, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) studied escalator injuries from 1990-2002 in the United States and concluded that there was a “disproportionate amount of escalator-related injuries in children who were younger than 5 years of age.”
At least 51 percent of injuries were from falling, and 36.5 percent were due to “entrapment” (such as a leg caught on the side). In the under 5 age group, the hand was the most common body part injured due to escalator accidents.
“Entrapment occurred more frequently among children who were younger than 5 years than in any other age group,” according to the report.
Safety guidelines when you are on an escalator with your child
AAP advises, “Young children should be supervised properly and should not be transported in a stroller while riding on an escalator. All passengers should use caution and remain alert when riding an escalator to avoid injuries related to falls or entrapment.”
Here’s what you should keep in mind and do whenever you get on an escalator with your child.
Always, always have your child hold your hand.
BabyCenter says it’s around 2 years old when your child can stand on the escalator on his own with you beside him and holding his hand.
Carry your child if you’re unsure.
Says the AAP, “Carrying the child while on an escalator will help to prevent him or her from putting hands or fingers between the escalator step and the sidewall or getting close enough to the sides.” It’s better to be safe than sorry. Pick your kid up before you step on the escalator if you feel like your child is too energetic or tired of being able to ride the escalator properly.
Give your child proper instructions.
Stepping on and off the escalator is automatic behavior for grown-ups, but it’s not the case for children below 7 years old. Before you get on, make sure your child can already understand and respond quickly to instructions like, “Now, step.” Says BabyCenter, “If yours can't react quickly to your instructions, he could get hurt.”
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Do not let your child sit on the steps.
The AAP study also found that 31 percent of the children who were injured on escalators were riding it improperly — sitting, walking, running, playing, etc. These children were mostly above 4 years old, but the earlier you teach your child to only stand between the yellow lines on an escalator, the better.
“Children's small hands and feet make it easier for them to become entrapped in the space between the escalator step and the sidewall,” says the AAP. To avoid this, keep your child standing in the middle of the step away from the edges. Hold her hand while you hold the handrails with the other.
Avoid using the escalator when your child is in a stroller.
Take the elevator instead. “Strollers were involved in a significant proportion of escalator-related injury events among children who were younger than 5 years,” says the AAP. “Most injuries occurred to children as a result of falling out of the stroller.”
Check what your child is wearing (slippers, untied shoelaces, etc.)
Watch out for loose clothing and dangling shoelaces. It may be best not to have your child wear sandals and rubber clogs as well. “Soft-sided shoes are the most likely to get stuck and pose the possibility of injury to the rider,” according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in a report by Quartz.
Accidents happen. The best that parents can do is to take as much precaution to prevent them wherever and whenever possible. And you fervently hope that you'll have the presence of mind to do what is necessary when something terrible happens.