Mobile center targets household hazards

About 34,000 Baltimore children are injured in home and traffic accidents and require medical attention each year -- a figure that has sparked Johns Hopkins health officials to launch a mobile safety center to illustrate potential hazards and preventative measures.

The center is mounted on a 40-foot trailer, and its interior simulates a typical house with a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and stairway. It will be staffed by instructors from Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health and the city Fire Department.


The center is scheduled to make its first stop at the East Baltimore Medical Center, in the 1000 block of E. Eager St. next month. Later, it will move to other locations around the city.

Dr. Andrea C. Gielen, deputy director of Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, said about 34,000 city children are injured badly enough each year to see a doctor.


About 1,000 city children, or about three a day, are injured so seriously that they need to be hospitalized. Burns, falls, poisonings and traffic accidents account for many of the injuries.

"Our mission with the Johns Hopkins CARES Mobile Safety Center is to promote the safety of children and families by delivering fun, interactive education, and affordable safety products to the community," Gielen said.

Falls are the most common childhood injury, according to Vinita Knight, program coordinator of the Pediatric Trauma Department at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

A tour of the mobile safety center showed toys and shoes littering a stairwell, a potential hazard. The stairwell landing is protected by a wooden gate, recommended for households with infants and toddlers.

In the bedroom area, visitors will be asked how to properly escape a house fire. Then, an onboard smoke generator and a heated door will simulate the conditions inside a home during a fire.

Other interactive exhibits will teach parents how to protect their children from stove burns, poisoning, falls and strangulation by such things as blind cords.

Visitors to the center will be able to buy car safety seats, bicycle helmets, safety gates and cabinet locks at below-retail prices. Smoke detectors are provided at no cost by the Fire Department.

"A lot of the problems come from our patients not being able to afford the safety equipment in their homes," said Pasquale Bernardi, office medical director at East Baltimore Medical Center. Stores that sell safety devices such as outlet covers and stove top covers are far from many low-income households, he added.