Summer is that wonderful, carefree time of year when families spend a lot more time outdoors swimming, hiking, biking, camping, barbecuing and enjoying a host of other activities. A downside of all this outdoor fun, however, is that it can cause injuries, especially for children. But it doesn’t have to be that way — most child injuries can be prevented. So that parents know how to keep their kids safe and healthy this summer, we at Westchester Health offer this blog of timely tips, information and advice.
Kids and injuries
According to the CDC, injuries are the #1 cause of death in children ages 19 and younger. The leading causes of child injury include motor vehicle crashes, suffocation, drowning, poisoning, fires and falls, the CDC states. The good news is that parents and caregivers can play a life-saving role in protecting children from injuries.
4 important ways you can prevent child injury in summer
While there is no concussion-proof helmet, a well-made helmet can help protect your child from a serious brain or head injury. Even with a helmet, it is important for your child to avoid hits to the head. In addition:
- Helmets should always be a requirement for cycling, skateboarding, rollerblading, kayaking or horseback riding.
- Parents should lead by example and also wear a helmet.
- Helmets should be well-fitted to prevent head injuries and concussions.
- Knee pads and arm guards should also be used to prevent injuries to the arms and legs.
The leading cause of death from injury in children aged 1-4 is from drowning. In fact, drowning kills more children in this age range than anything else except birth defects. For that reason:
- All pools should be fenced in with a secure locked gate.
- There should always be parental supervision whenever any child or teen is swimming.
- If you are having a pool party, seriously consider hiring a lifeguard.
- Swimming lessons decrease the risk of drowning and can be started as young as 2 or 3.
- Even though a child has a flotation device, he/she still needs to be supervised.
- Make sure children wear life jackets in and around natural bodies of water, such as lakes or the ocean, even if they know how to swim. Life jackets should be used in and around pools for very young or weaker swimmers.
- When kids are in or near water (including bathtubs), closely supervise them at all times. Because drowning happens quickly and quietly, adults watching children in or near water should avoid distracting activities like playing cards, reading books, talking on the phone and using alcohol or drugs.
Every day, over 300 children ages 0-19 are treated in emergency rooms for burn-related injuries. Younger children are more likely to sustain scald burns from hot liquids or steam, while older children typically sustain injuries from flame burns from direct contact with fire. Summer brings an added risk of burns, not only from the sun but from outdoor grills and campfires. To prevent burns:
- Make sure there is a wide area around the grill or campfire when children are playing.
- Ashes stay hot even when a fire is out and can lead to burns. Keep children from walking barefoot through the spent coals or ashes of a fire.
- Never leave the area until all fires are out and cold.
- Children can be burned by a lawn mower’s hot engine and should not be allowed near it until it has cooled.
- Supervise or restrict children’s use of outdoor grills.
- Install and maintain smoke alarms in your home, on every floor and near all rooms family members sleep in. Test your smoke alarms once a month to make sure they are working properly and use long life batteries when possible.
Children should never play on or around a lawn mower while in use. They can be burned by a hot engine or seriously injured by the mower blades if they get too close while it is running, if an item of their clothing gets tangled under the mower, or if a rock, stick or other object is flung out from under the mower like a projectile.
More prevention tips for any time of year
- Remind your children never to approach or talk with strangers, either on foot or in a car. If a stranger approaches them and tries to get them to go somewhere with him/her, your child should run away, yell for help and find a responsible adult.
- Ice cream trucks: children should NEVER run to the truck without first looking for oncoming traffic.
- Teach your children not to run after a ball that goes into the street.
- Kids should always have their feet covered, especially in the street (broken glass) and on wooden decks (splintered wood).
- Windows higher than ground level should have window guards. Children have fallen out of windows to their deaths, especially from high-rise apartments or the 2nd or 3rd floors of houses.
Read our pediatric blogs
We’ve written several informative blogs about children’s illnesses and conditions as well as preventative care, which you can read here.
- CDC: Child Injury Prevention
- Prevention of Unintentional Childhood Injuries
- National Action Plan for Child Injury Prevention
To learn more about keeping your child injury-free, please come see us.
If you’re concerned about your child getting injured this summer or at any time of the year, please call (914) 232-1919 to make an appointment to see one of our Westchester Health pediatricians. We’ll sit down with you, and also your child if you’d like, and go over all the relevant safety precautions you should be taking, now and as your child gets older. We’ll also take all the time you need to answer any questions you may have. Our #1 goal is to help you and your family be healthy and happy. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.
By Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, Lead Pediatric Physician with Westchester Health, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners