While summer days filled with swimming, bike riding and toasting s’mores are every child’s dream, each of these activities can quickly become a parent’s worst nightmare if the proper safety precautions aren’t taken. Here’s a look at some common sense ways to keep your kids safe this summer.
According to the CDC, drowning is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 4, only surpassed by congenital birth defects. Even non-fatal drowning injuries can lead to devastating health issues for children such as brain damage, learning delays and memory issues. While community pools may seem like the major culprit, home pools are the source of most childhood drownings. It is important that parents establish safety measures anytime our children are around water.
Jessica Saunders, Dayton Children’s Hospital Director of the Center for Child Health and Wellness, and the Coordinator of Safe Kids Greater Dayton, says that many water related injuries can be avoided by following some simple precautions – the first and most important one being adult supervision. Kids need a parent’s full attention anytime they are around water – even when it is only an inch deep. Buckets, baby pools and tubs all pose a risk for water related injuries. These items should be emptied and turned over for storage after every use. Saunders also urges parents to use only US Coast Guard approved flotation devices and not water-wings which offer a false sense of safety.
Physical activity is incredibly important for children, and one of the best ways to get active in the summer is biking. Although biking is great exercise, it can also lead to high rates of injuries for kids in the 5-14 age range according to the CDC, specifically head injuries. Saunders says that helmets can reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury by up to 88%. That’s why a properly fitting helmet should be worn anytime that a child is on a bike, scooter or any wheeled vehicle. While some older children may resist the idea of wearing a bike helmet, having them choose one that appeals to them can help with compliance. Children should also be urged to stay on sidewalks when biking, follow the rules of the road if they must ride on the street and remember that cars may not always see them. Parents can be great role models for bike safety by taking the time to go on a family bike ride to teach kids these safety precautions.
While campfires, s’mores and fireworks all scream summer fun, these activities can also lead to severe injuries. Again, Saunders emphasizes that adult supervision is key. All children should be taught to stay 3-5 feet away from a fire. Young children and toddlers are curious, fast and unsteady. It only takes a moment for a young child to suffer a severe burn from a live fire. Even the ash from a fire that has been out for over 24 hours can lead to severe burns. As a precaution, Saunders urges families to pour water over fires to reduce the risk of burns from lingering hot ash.
Injuries do happen, even when well-intentioned parents and caregivers are attentive to the safety recommendations listed above. But, many injuries can also be prevented. For more on summer safety tips for children, check out the CDC’s recommendations and fast fact sheets.