Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death in children 14 and under. Unfortunately these devastating events occur more frequently in the summer. Visits to the ER for minor injuries also escalate in the summer. Some aspects of our children’s health and safety are out of our control. However there are some risks that you can control, so take charge and help your child to have a safe summer!
1. Water Safety
*All pools should be fenced (at least 4 feet high) on four sides with self latching gates.
*Remember that 9 out of 10 fatal events involving a pool happen in a very brief lapse of time, the child is usually missing less than 5 minutes. Never let your guard down.
*Always use personal flotation devices when boating.
*No diving in water less than 9 feet.
*Teach your child to swim and review pool safety regularly.
2. Bike Safety
*Bike helmets really do work!! When worn properly, they can decrease the risk of brain injury by 85%.
*Teach children to obey traffic laws and to cross at the cross walk.
*Assess your house for risk of falls. Do you have a balcony? a fire escape? Do you leave second story windows open? Make sure the children do not have access to these dangerous sites. If you like to leave windows open upstairs, be sure there is nothing near it that children could easily climb up like a chair or a bed. Install window guards (guards should have a safety latch in case of fire).
*Playgrounds should have at least 12 inches of protective ground cover like mulch or sand.
4. Car Safety
*Most of us are pretty consistent about restraining our infants and toddlers. It is the school age child who wants to be out of the booster seat that I most often see at risk. To be out of a booster seat your child should be 4’9″ and 80-100 pounds. This usually is around 8-12 years old (most commonly about 10 years old). To graduate to the adult seat belt, it should fit snugly across their hips and shoulder and should not go across their neck. The right car seat, correctly installed decreases fatal injury for children less than 1 year by 71% and for toddlers by 54%. For children in booster seats the risk of fatal injury is decreased by 59%. So drag that booster seat out of the garage-this fight is worth the effort.
*Children 12 and under should be in the back seat. Even if they are as big as some adults, it is still the safest place to be in the car.
*Lock your car when parked in your driveway. A game of hide and seek can quickly become deadly when a toddler gets into an unlocked car in the summer. They may not know how to open the door and/or the child safety lock may be engaged. It only takes a short time for a dramatic and deadly temperature rise.
*Get in the habit of walking around your car before you get in and start. It only takes two seconds and it could prevent a devastating accident. Children are very difficult to see behind a car especially a SUV or minivan.
5. Street Safety
*Do not allow children less than 10 years old to cross a busy street alone. They are not developmentally ready to be consistent and they are still easily distracted.
*Teach children to cross at the light, use cross walks and look left-right-left before crossing, even at a light.
*Use extra caution when walking through parking lots or playing in driveways.
*Leave fireworks to the professionals! Tell your children that under no circumstances should kids be playing with fireworks. Eye damage, skin burns and even loss of fingers are real dangers when lighting fireworks.
*Sparklers look safe but can reach 1800 degrees F and cause a nasty burn. Be sure that your children are closely supervised when using sparklers.
These are somber but necessary reminders. A few minor changes can help your family enjoy summer safely.