The disturbing Nationwide Insurance commercial about preventable childhood death and injury that aired during the Super Bowl stirred controversy. People said its images were uncomfortable and out of place. Others called it a â€œbuzzkill,â€ saying it wasnâ€™t the right time to make us think about children dying, especially when Katy Perry was about to perform.
But when is the right time? Preventable child death is a tragic fact, with preventable injuries the number-one cause of child death worldwide. In the U.S., over 9,000 children die every year from accidents that could have been prevented. That means more than 25 children died on Super Bowl Sunday and thousands more suffered serious injuries while we were watching TV.
Most people think accidents just happen, and that children are actually safest when theyâ€™re in their own homes. In fact, 50 percent of all preventable child deaths happen at home from accidental poisoning, falls, fires, drowning, suffocation and more.
We need to understand the data, not to make us feel bad or purchase more home coverage insurance, but rather to highlight the fact that the vast majority of â€œaccidentsâ€ that are killing our children are, in fact, preventable. They donâ€™t have to happen, and children donâ€™t need to die.
As parents and caregivers, there are many simple things that can be done to keep our children safe. We can anchor our television sets to prevent tip-overs, knowing that a 36â€ CRT TV falling 3 feet creates the same momentum as a 1-year-old child falling 10 stories. We can install a temporary fence around our swimming pools, place child locks on medicine cabinets and cupboards where cleaning supplies are stored, and make sure we have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors outside our childrenâ€™s bedrooms. Â We can actively supervise our children to keep them out of harmâ€™s way.
Thatâ€™s the message Nationwide was trying to convey.Â Nationwide executives responded to the backlash by saying their goal was not to sell insurance, but to initiate a conversation about preventable childhood injuries. Well, they succeeded in a big way. Over 93 million of us tuned in to the Super Bowl on Sunday and heard the Nationwide message â€œMake Safe Happen.â€
Despite the uproar, one tweet made it all worthwhile: â€œI will have to admit I checked the cabinets, doors and children after that commercial.â€Â Mission accomplished.
If we can get past the discomfort of having our Super Bowl interrupted by a serious topic, surely we can take the small actions in our own homes that will keep our children safe. Â Losing a child to a preventable death is the ultimate â€œbuzzkill.â€
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