Pediatric Brain Injury Prevention

The best cure for brain injuries is prevention.

Motor Vehicle Safety

Motor vehicle crashes occur in the blink of an eye. Follow these important safety tips to minimize risk of injury and even death.

-Always have children in proper car safety restraints, and be sure they are secured to the seat correctly. You can find information on car seat stages on the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Child Passenger Safety website, and the CDC’s Injury Prevention & Control website. And don’t rush to advance your child to the next level, safety decreases with each step, especially if they are not ready.


Minnesota Child Passenger Safety

  • All children must be in a child restraint until they are 4’9”, or at least age 8; whichever comes first. Click here for a 5-step test to see if your child is big enough to ride without a booster. 
  • Keep your child in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible; until they exceed the height or weight limit allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer.
  • Kids should be in the backseat, properly restrained, until at least 13 years old.

Click here for more information about MN Child Passenger Safety Law and resources. 


Teen Drivers

The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16–19-year-olds than among any other age group. Teach good driving habits, especially by limiting distractions; which lead to 6 out of every 10 crashes involving teenagers.

For tips on Teen Driver Safety, visit our Trauma Prevention Program Traffic Safety site.


All Drivers

All vehicle occupants are safest when the driver follows these important rules:

  • Never drive while impaired by alcohol, medications, or other drugs
  • Drive alert: map your drive before you head out and skip the text until you arrive safely
  • Slow down, especially in wet or wintry weather
  • Every occupant should be buckled properly, every time

Learn more on our Trauma Prevention Program Traffic Safety site, including information on older driver safety.

Bikes, Scooters & ATVs

Whether on a bike, scooter, or anything that travels faster than two feet can carry you; children of all ages, as well as the adults with them, should wear a helmet that is in good condition and that fits properly. Replace any helmet that has had impact during a crash and inspect for cracks in the foam before each use.

Tips on how to ensure the proper fit can be found on the MN Safety Council Bicycle Helmet website.

  • Obey traffic laws
  • Use extra caution when it is getting dark, or if there is any other reason you may be hard to see. Bike lights and reflective gear and clothing can help.
  • Provide close supervision to promote safe habits.
  • Assume new bikers will make mistakes; avoid biking near busy roads or intersections where those mistakes could be costly.
  • Infants under 1 year should not be on bikes or in trailers, even with a helmet. The movement from bikes is too rough for young brains and bodies, even without a crash.
  • For more information, check out Think First, the National Injury Prevention Foundation’s website on Bicycle Safety, as well as Safe Kids Worldwide website on safety tips for Bikes.

Information on safety for other activities:

Skating/Skateboarding | Safe Kids Worldwide

Driveway Safety | Safe Kids Worldwide



The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children under 16 should not be allowed to operate an ATV. If you do allow children under 16 to ride, the AAP urges you follow these safety rules:

  • Wear a helmet. Motorcycle-style helmets approved by the Dept of Transportation and needed for ATV use.
  • Follow the vehicle’s restrictions. If the ATV is designed for a driver only, don’t add a passenger.
  • Stay off public roads unless permitted by law and with an adult.
  • Use only an ATV that is the right size for the driver.
  • Don’t ride at night.
  • Don’t let anyone drive while under the influence.


For more information:

Home Safety

Falls are the #1 cause of injury resulting in hospitalization for children 0-14 in the U.S, and are the leading cause of TBI for children ages 0-4 (CDC). Following these rules will reduce risk for the little ones in your life:

  • Install child safety devices on windows 6 feet or more off the ground
  • Use child safety window stops to prevent windows from opening more than 4 inches, or the height of a roll of toilet paper.
  • Keep furniture away from windows. Some children fall out of windows when they are standing or jumping on a bed or chair.
  • Window screens keep bugs out, they are not made to keep kids in. Screens can pop out with the slightest push and do not prevent a child from falling out.
  • Supervise children and keep play away from windows, balconies, and patio doors.
  • Make sure you are aware of risks when away from home, for example visiting grandparents and hotels. If you visit a place where windows are not child-proofed, close and lock them during your visit.
  • Never leave a baby unattended on a couch or bed. You never know when they will roll for the first time.
  • Install safety gates on stairs to prevent falls for infants and young children and be sure to use them. And do your research before purchasing to make sure it is easy to use and effective for your specific space.
  • Do not use baby walkers as they have led to numerous injuries in young children. Stationary play equipment, like exersaucers, are preferred. Baby Walkers: Important Safety Information
  • Secure TV’s and furniture to a wall, or use anti-tip brackets. Learn more about TV and Furniture Tip-Overs here:
  • Store heavy objects on lower shelves or put away.
  • With all infants and young children; supervision is key.

Follow these links to learn more:

Water Safety

Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children between 1 and 4 years old, and is the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in ages 0-20. Death and injury from drownings happen every day in home pools and hot tubs, at the beach and in oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams, in bathtubs, and even buckets (Red Cross). Follow these tips to avoid these tragic events:

  • Ensure everyone, children and adults, learns to swim. Formal swim lessons are the best way to prevent drowning. Visit the Red Cross to find swim lessons near you. In some cases, classes are free or low cost to those who qualify.
  • Have multiple layers of protection to prevent access to water. Fences around pools, life jackets when in and around water, and close supervision of young children. Having multiple layers of protection helps protect so that one moment of oversight doesn’t lead to tragedy.
  • Know what to do in a water emergency, including how to help someone in trouble and how to perform CPR.
  • Ensure kids have the undivided attention of an adult when around open bodies of water. Children can drown in the time it takes to reply to a text, check a fishing line, or apply sunscreen. There are tools that can be used to help designate who is responsible for watching children in water; including the Water Watchdog Tag from Abby’s Hope and the Water Watcher Card from Safe Kids Worldwide.


To learn more, visit:

Safety in Sports

Different sports and activities involve different levels of risk.  And though there is no way to remove risk completely, there are ways to minimize it and to play more safely, at any age.

  • Ensure age appropriate sports and activities at all ages. Consider the size of the individual and others involved, decision making capacity, and level of supervision.
  • Participate in activities that follow approved protocols to reduce injury risk.
  • Always wear appropriate safety equipment. Helmets, pads, mouth guard, restraints. Make it standard that these are worn every time. Also ensure that the equipment is in good condition, fits properly, and hasn’t been damaged.
  • Learn the signs and symptoms of a concussion and know when to remove from play. The CDC’s HEADS UP to Youth Sports campaign has good info for players, coaches, and parents.
  • If you’ve sustained a brain injury or think you may have, be sure to follow doctor’s orders and avoid doing anything that raises your chances of getting another until you are given the all clear.


For more information: Sports | Safe Kids Worldwide

Firearm Safety

Every year in America, more than 7,000 young people under the age of 18 are shot (from Northwell Health Center for Gun Violence Prevention). To prevent injuries from guns, follow these tips:

  • Store guns securely, which means unloaded and secured with effective, child-proof gun locks. Click here for information on safe gun storage. Home - Safe Gun Storage
  • When a gun is not being stored, keep it in your immediate possession and control at all times
  • Be aware of guns in the homes of family members and anywhere else where your kids may spend time. Don’t assume that others are storing their guns safely. Find tips on how to talk to others about guns in their home.

For more information: Safe Kids Worldwide: Guns

If you are worried about someone in your life who you believe has access to guns, look to these resources for support:


Guns are also used in a high percentage of suicides, and lead to more deaths by suicide than any other cause. If you or someone you know needs help, call or text the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or Chat.  Help is available 24/7/365.

Visit our Trauma Prevention Program page for more information, resources and tips. As a Level I Adult Trauma Center and Level I Pediatric Trauma Center, Hennepin Healthcare is committed to treating trauma patients, and providing proactive trauma prevention programming to patients, clients, and the broader community.

Click here to learn about Symptoms of a Brain Injury.

For information: