Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Preventing Common Summer Injuries

Summer is the time of increased activity and all-day outdoor fun, but it can also be the season of injury and mishap when excited kids become reckless in their enthusiasm. Parents and childcare providers can spend the dog days patching up contusions and rushing to the emergency room, or they can take a few simple steps to help prevent the most common summer injuries.

Ban Trampolines – Few backyard toys scream “summertime” quite like a big, bouncy trampoline. Unfortunately, kids run a significant risk of getting hurt every time they catch some air; The American Academy of Pediatrics even goes so far as to say that “parents should never purchase a home trampoline or allow children to use home trampolines.” Falls from the surface of a trampoline can cause impact injuries, springs can pinch, tear and cut delicate flesh, not to mention the inherent risk of injury due to collision when kids share a trampoline. Supervision only allows parents or caregivers to be present immediately following an injury; the nature of trampoline play makes it almost impossible to ward off an impending accident before it occurs. Installing a net and instituting a “one at a time” rule might prevent some injuries, but are by no means foolproof.
Use Sunscreen Religiously – Sunburns may seem like par for the kiddie summertime course, but parents should understand that they are, in fact, injuries. The Skin Cancer Foundation asserts that a single severe sunburn during childhood could double the risk of a skin cancer diagnosis in adulthood, not to mention the ease with which a “minor” sunburn can become one that blisters and causes serious discomfort. Sunburns that present with blisters are actually second-degree burns, and are absolutely preventable injuries. Apply sunscreen before kids go outside, and reapply frequently. Swimming and sweating heavily can wash away even “waterproof” formulas over time, so be sure to keep slathering it on kids that are particularly active or playing in water.
Be Vigilant About Pool Safety – The Consumer Product Safety Commission states that almost 75% of child drowning deaths occur in youngsters under the age of five, and that an annual average of 390 pool or spa-related drownings of children under the age of 15 drowned between 2007 and 2009. Kiddie pools are no exception. During summer months, 1 child dies every 5 days in a kiddie pool. Parents and childcare providers are urged to practice “touch supervision,” meaning that they are never out of reach of a child in water. Outlaw running in pool areas, horseplay and risky activities to prevent injury, and become certified in CPR to prevent tragedy when accidents aren’t avoided.
Keep Kids Cool and Hydrated – Sunshine and summer heat are part of what makes the outdoors appealing; free from restrictive layers of warm clothing that are de rigueur in winter, kids can climb, run and play to their hearts’ content. Unfortunately, the heat and increased activity also puts kids at risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which they’re already more susceptible to than their adult counterparts. Little bodies generate more heat and sweat less, so parents and caregivers are urged to dress kids in light clothes, make sure that they stay hydrated and avoid prolonged and intense activity in the summer heat. Encourage kids to take breaks, provide plenty of fluids and keep your eyes peeled for signs of heat exhaustion, which include cramps, nausea, dizziness, vomiting and fainting. Kids suffering from heat exhaustion may also deny that they feel hot, so it’s imperative to watch for other symptoms.
Enforce Strict Helmet Rules – Older kids may like to shuck their bicycle helmets the moment they’re out of your sight, but it’s still important that parents and caregivers do their best to enforce those rules without exception. Head and brain injuries are common causes of hospital visits for children, often due to bicycle accidents in which the head is not protected by a helmet. Make it a policy never to let your child ride without a helmet.
Get a Mouth Guard For Summer Sports – Community sports leagues and teams are often formed during the summer months, allowing kids to play without worries about the demands of schoolwork and keeping them active during what could easily become a very sedentary, unhealthy time. Enrolling kids in these programs is a wise idea, but parents should always invest in a quality mouth guard to protect kids’ mouths. Not only does this help to prevent tooth loss; mouth guards also provide protection for the tongue, jaw and lips.
Some scrapes, cuts and bruises are simply inevitable; children at play have a tendency to trip, fall and run into things. However, the most common, serious injuries are almost always preventable, so adopt an active approach to supervision during the summer months.

Contacts and sources:
Carrie Dotson

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