Summer is here and along with summer fun comes unintentional childhood accidents. The kids and I recently attended an event at The Shriners Hospital for Children®** in Sacramento where we learned a lot about which types of childhood injuries are most often seen in emergency rooms during the summer, and we also learned how we can prevent these types of injuries.
At home, on the playground or while on vacation, there are lots of summer activities that put children at risk for live threatening and life changing injuries, but with a few simple precautions you can greatly reduce the risk. As a mom my number one priority is to keep my kids safe, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
5 Common Types of Summer Injuries:
Playground InjuriesBroken bones and head injuries are frequently the result of falls from playground equipment. Kids can still have a great time on the playground while be safe.
Slide feet first down the slide, one child at a time. Climbing up the slide when another child is sliding down puts both children at risk for injury.
Always swing while seated. Standing up on a swing increases the likelihood of falls and head injuries.
Never push or shove other children on the playground or while on play structures.
Make sure shock-absorbing material (like wood chips or mulch) is below playground equipment. Never play on equipment that is sitting on top of hard surfaces.
Boating/Swimming InjuriesWater related accidents can often be severe if not fatal. On average 400 children die every year due to unintentional drowning. But that doesn’t mean you need to keep your children away from the water. With the proper supervision kids can enjoy summer water activities safely.
Always wear a life jacket when around water. Even if children aren’t actually swimming, anytime they are playing on docks or boats they should have a properly fitted life jacket.
Never dive into water that is shallow or if you don’t know how deep it is. Diving injuries are one of the leading causes of spinal cord injuries.
Never run on pool decks or docks. Slippery surfaces mean an increased likelihood of falling.
Never allow children to swim alone and make sure small children cannot access pools or bodies of water. It only take seconds for a child to fall into a body of water, so making sure they are supervised at all times is key to preventing accidents.
Lawnmower InjuriesAn often overlooked risk, more than 17,000 children are injured by lawnmowers every year. (I was shocked to learn that statistic!)
Never allow small children to play on or around lawnmowers.
Don’t allow children to ride on your lap while using a riding mower (this is one of the most common causes of lawnmower accidents.)
Always know where your children are while using the mower, and remind them they should NEVER run up to a mower while it is in operation.
If children are old enough to use a lawnmower, make sure they always wear closed toed shoes and long pants to prevent projectile injuries. (The Acadamey of Pediatrics suggests kids can begin using a lawnmower at age 12 for push mowers and 16 for riding mowers, however only you know the maturity level of your child)
Burn InjuriesAlthough burn injury rates are on the decline in the US, they are still very common in children under 14. Most burns are the result of scalding (due to hot liquids) but contact burns are also frequently seen.
Never allow children to play around fire pits, campfires or grills.
Never leave active fires, stoves or hot liquids unattended especially when children are present.
Talk to kids about fire escape routes and demonstrate what your fire alarms sound like. Children tend to be scared by the sound of fire alarms and instead of trying to escape, will instead hide. You want them to know what to expect during and emergency. For that same reason, you should slso teach children they should not fear or hide from fire fighters.
Check the temperature of bath and sink water before allowing children to touch it and set limits on your hot water thermostat to prevent scalding.
Prevent sunburn by wearing sunscreen and sun protective clothing during outdoor activities. There is really great UV detecting technology available which can make it much easier to monitor your UV exposure.
Biking InjuriesEvery year trauma departments treat 26,000 children and adolescents for head injuries related to biking. In the summer months is when the majority of these accidents occur, and many of them could be easily prevented.
Always wear helmets while biking, skateboarding or using a scooter. Make sure your child’s helmet has the proper fit and that they wear it EVERY TIME they use their bike. (Research has shown wearing a helmet can reduce a child’s risk of head injury by 85%)
Follow all traffic rules such as crossing at crosswalks and following signals.
Make sure the child's bike is the proper size for the child. Bikes that are too small or too large make it difficult to ride and increase the chance of crashing.
If riding at dawn or dusk, use a light and wear light colored clothing to be more visible.
What else can you do?The truth is that even if you follow all of those guidelines, accidents will still happen. Kids will be kids.
And fortunately, when unexpected accidents get thrown your way, Shriners Hospitals for Children® is there. As a leader in pediatric orthopedic conditions, spinal cord injuries and burns, Shiners provides surgical and rehabilitative care for life changing injuries, regardless of a family’s ability to pay.
The doctors at Shriners Hospitals for Children® are everyday superheroes, touching lives and healing kids.
But they do it with love and compassion.. and even a little bit of fuzz (or should I say Fez):
I hope your family has a wonderful, fun-filled and most importantly SAFE summer. But if you do find yourself facing childhood injuries, remember Shiners Hospitals for Children® has your back!