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At-home child injuries on the rise during pandemic

National Injury Prevention Day is on November 18. Injuries are the leading cause of death and disability to U.S. children.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — When Ivy Rogito was 12 years old, she suffered a traumatic injury while riding her bike home from her best friend's place. 

"Since the road was curved, I didn't see any cars that were coming in really fast. So when I looked both ways I saw it was safe to cross and then this car came in like at 60 miles per hour," Rogito recalled. 

The car hit Rogito, severely injuring her right leg. She was eventually taken to Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC). 

"Obviously there were good days and bad days. But recovery was definitely tricky," said Rogito, who lives in Ramsey. 

Credit: Ivy Rogito
Ivy Rogito in 2015, recovering at Hennepin County Medical Center after being hit by a car while riding her bike.

Injuries are the leading cause of death and disability in children in the U.S. Now 40 trauma centers across the nation have joined forces for National Injury Prevention Day on November 18.

It's the Injury Free Coalition for Kids' first year holding a National Injury Prevention Day. 

This year, more kids are at home due to distance learning. Julie Philbrook, a trauma prevention specialist for Hennepin Healthcare, said they are seeing a rise in preventable home injuries. 

"There's a level of stress, a level of distraction, and just more time spent at home. As a result, we're seeing kids getting into medications more often... some kids getting out of the house and being unsupervised," Philbrook said. 

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Hennepin Healthcare isn't alone. Children's Minnesota is also seeing a rise in injuries at home, up nearly 30% compared to the same time frame last year. Injuries in the school setting were down 37% for the same time frame. Children's Minnesota has also seen a more than two-fold increase in injuries happening on bike paths and sidewalks, which correlates with the increase in people riding bicycles and spending time outdoors this spring and summer. 

Children's Minnesota is also a part of National Injury Prevention Day. A Children's spokesperson added via email, "While we always want kids to be safe at home, we understand accidents happen. We urge parents don't delay seeking emergency care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Children's Minnesota's top priority is safety and we've taken extra steps to keep our families safe."

Philbrook said while anecdotally they know many trauma centers are seeing this increase, the Injury Free Coalition for Kids is gathering data to compare injury trends prior to and during the pandemic. 

Credit: KARE 11
Hennepin Healthcare is seeing a rise in preventable home injuries.

Every day, 20 children die from preventable injuries. 

"Live out loud. If you're thinking about something not being safe, then talk to your kids about it. What can we do to make it safer?" Philbrook recommended. 

Philbrook said they are encouraging parents to take their kids on a scavenger hunt — using a home safety checklist — and come up with at least three steps the family can take to make their homes safer. 

"I think looking around your house and asking is it something that's at their level and then they have access to it or can they push the chair over," Philbrook said. 

It's been five years since Rogito's injury. She's now a senior at Anoka High School. Rogito said she's thankful for the care and support she received. 

"I would've never been able to go through it alone. I know that for a fact," she said. 

Ivy's mother, Joyce Rogito, said she's especially thankful for Dr. Stacene Maroushek with Hennepin Healthcare. 

Joyce recalled, "She said, 'Ivy, I will do everything I can with my team to make sure you dance down the aisle on your wedding day.' That statement meant a lot to us. We saw light at the end of the tunnel."

RELATED: Live updates: Gov. Walz, frontline health care workers ask Minnesotans to mask up and stay home as COVID-19 cases surge

Several events will be happening Wednesday, Nov. 18, in recognition of National Injury Prevention Day. Hennepin Healthcare is going green. Wear green to raise awareness and email photos of your group wearing green to events@hcmed.org. 

Share your safety plan by using this home safety checklist. Involve your kids and come up with 3-5 steps to make your home safer. Email events@hcmed.org with your list and photos between Nov. 18 - Nov. 25 for a chance to win a $25 Target gift card. 

The Injury Free Coalition for Kids will host a live one-hour Twitter chat starting at noon on Nov. 18. 

Also on Wednesday, Nicollet Mall and the Lowry Bridge will be lighting up in green to raise awareness about preventable injuries. 

Children's Minnesota also has tips for families on celebrating National Injury Prevention Day, here