Summer is a time of going to the playground, swimming, boating, biking, camping and other outdoor activities. Unfortunately, in addition to being a lot of fun for children, these activities can lead to a higher risk of injuries.
To public health and medical professionals, summer is often known as “trauma season” because unintentional deaths and serious injuries among children increase dramatically during these months.
Since learning how to avoid accidents can prevent many of these injuries, our summer safety campaign serves to share tips related to playground, swimming, boating, lawn mower and fire safety.
Every year, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries.
Everyone should wear sunscreen when participating in outdoor activities, especially burn victims. Burned and/or grafted skin is more susceptible to damage. For better sun protection, choose opaque creams over clear gel sunscreens. Look for sunscreen with parasols and avoid alcohol-based ones as they can irritate the skin. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before you go outside and reapply every 2 hours. Remember unprotected skin can get a slight sunburn in as little as 12 minutes on a summer day. Learn more about sunburns.
As temperatures rise, it's crucial to amp up our hydration efforts especially after an injury or surgery. Water is what helps thin the blood and move nutrients and oxygen through the body so that cell-repairing nutrients can be easily brought to the recovering area. To prevent monotony from drinking only water, try incorporating refreshing options like juicy watermelon slices and creatively infused water to keep your little ones happily hydrated and excited about staying cool.
Avoid trampolines and jump parks
This is not our favorite piece of advice to deliver for summer safety but it must be said because injuries from trampolines continue to be seen in emergency rooms across the country. Orthopedic injuries are prevalent and while rare there have been deaths attributed to trampolines. We advise parents to steer clear from trampolines, but if your kids do use trampolines, at least use a safety net and make sure no other toys, such as balls, are in the area where your kids are jumping.
Stay vigilant around water
Drownings are preventable tragedies. To stay safe around water, supervise children, use flotation devices, avoid risks, recognize signs of drowning, and be prepared to respond with rescue techniques and CPR if needed. Education about water safety is vital for prevention.
Ensure orthotics are kept clean
If your child has orthotics, make sure they are kept dry. Regularly wipe off sweat every hour or so to reduce the risk of odor, bacteria or infections. Changing socks as needed will also help maintain a hygienic environment for their feet and overall well-being.
"When traveling, make sure there is access to the attractions within the destination. If using adaptive equipment/braces/prosthetics, plan on cleaning out sand, saltwater, etc. Possibly locate a place that may be able to repair any of those that could falter while out of town." - Darren Rottmann, manager of Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services, Shriners Children's St. Louis.
The Centers for Disease Control reported that every year emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries.*
Before your kids head outside to play, be sure to keep these precautions in mind:
Choose parks and playgrounds that are appropriate for the child’s age.
Teach children that pushing and shoving on the playground can result in accidents and injuries.
Make sure your child always wears shoes to protect feet from cuts, scrapes, splinters and pavement burns, and wears sunscreen to protect from sunburns and harmful ultraviolet rays.
Parents should supervise children on play equipment at all times.
The playground should have safety-tested mats or loose-fill materials (shredded rubber, sand, wood chips or bark) maintained to a depth of at least 9 inches (6 inches for shredded rubber). The protective surface should be installed at least 6 feet (more for swings and slides) in all directions from the equipment.
Equipment should be carefully maintained. Open "S" hooks or protruding bolt ends can be hazardous.
Swing seats should be made of soft materials such as rubber, plastic or canvas.
Remind children to swing sitting down. Encourage them to wait until the swing stops before getting off and to be careful when walking in front of moving swings.
Remind kids to go down the slide one at a time and to wait until the slide is completely clear before taking their turn. Teach them to always sit facing forward with their legs straight in front of them. Insist they NEVER slide down headfirst!
Make sure children cannot reach any moving parts that might pinch or trap any body part.
Metal, rubber and plastic products can get very hot in the summer, especially under direct sun.
Make sure slides are cool to prevent children's legs from getting burned.
Reminder: Do not allow children to play barefoot on the playground.
Bouncing is fun! Whether it be on trampolines or in bounce houses, jumping is something most children and teenagers enjoy. Unfortunately, injuries are common with these activities. Typical trampoline injuries include broken bones, strains and sprains. Paralysis and fatal injury can also occur.
According to an American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ release: Nearly one-third of trampoline injuries involved fractures; 60% of the fractures were located in the upper extremities and approximately 36% in the lower extremities. Most trampoline injuries occur in the home environment, and more than 90% are sustained by children, usually those between the ages of 5 and 14 years.
Use of inflatable bouncers is also to blame for thousands of emergency room visits by children each year.
Read and follow these tips to help keep your family safe.
While a lawn mower may seem like just a common household tool, thousands of children are injured in lawn mower accidents each year, some severely. Lawn mower injuries account for a large percentage of accidental amputations, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The speed of the blade can send dirt and bacteria deep into a wound, creating a high risk for severe infection.
Most lawn mower-related injuries can be prevented by following some simple safety guidelines. Learn more.
While playing poolside may be a blast, Safe Kids Worldwide Organization reports that drowning is the leading injury-related cause of death for children ages 1-4, and it is the third leading cause of injury-related death among children 19 and under.*
Additionally, diving is the fifth leading cause of spinal cord injury for men and women, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, with 29% of injuries affecting children up to age 18.**
Supervision and common sense can go a long way to prevent accidents and injuries. Always practice these tips to ensure your family’s safety around water:
Watch kids when they are in or around water, without being distracted. Young children can drown in as little as one inch of water, so it’s important to keep them within an arm’s reach of an adult.
Empty tubs, buckets, containers and kids’ pools immediately after use. Store them upside down and out of children’s reach.
Close lids and doors. Keep toilet lids and doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed when not in use.
Install fences around home pools. A pool fence should surround all sides of the pool and be at least four feet tall with self-closing and self-latching gates.
Learn CPR and basic water rescue skills. It is important to know how to respond in an emergency without putting yourself at risk.
The best way to enter the water is ALWAYS feet first.
Boating, tubing and other water sports can be great fun, but can also be dangerous. Where cause of death was known, 80% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 83% were not wearing a life jacket.*
Here is what you can do to enjoy time on the water safely:
Children should wear life jackets at all times when on boats, docks or near bodies of water.
Make sure the life jacket is the right size for your child. The jacket should not be loose and should always be worn as instructed with all straps belted.
Blow-up water wings, toys, rafts and air mattresses should not be used as life jackets or personal flotation devices. Adults should wear life jackets for their own protection and to set a good example.
Adolescents and adults need to be aware of the dangers of boating, even as a passenger, when under the influence of alcohol, drugs and some prescription medications.
Children follow your example! Whenever you are on a boat – everyone should wear a life jacket.
Fireworks are exciting for children and adults alike. Cooking on the grill creates tasty meals. Campfires warm, and sear marshmallows and hot dogs. However, all of these activities require precautions to ensure that you and your children have only happy summer memories.
Learn more about having fun and keeping kids safe.