The summer months are now here and kid’s outdoor activities are in full swing. With that can come lots of fun but also the potential for injuries.
The National Safe Kids Campaign estimates that every year, 1 in 4 children under the age of 14 will sustain an injury that requires medical attention. Forty percent of all injury-related emergency room visits and 42 percent of all injury deaths happen between May and August. We can keep kids free from about 90 percent of these accidents by educating ourselves and our kids on how to stay safe while still enjoying summer vacation.
Time outside means planning to spray yourself and your kids with insect repellent. There are different types of repellents: those that contain DEET and those that don’t. Use insect repellents containing DEET on kids sparingly. Never use repellent on infants and check the levels of DEET in formulas before applying to older kids — DEET can be toxic. Repellents with 10 to 30 percent concentrations of DEET can be used on exposed skin, and clothing. If you want to avoid DEET, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends repellents that contain picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, both are non-toxic and able to reduce mosquito bites just as well.
In 2006, more than 3,700 kids younger than 5 years old were injured in near-drowning incidents, and every year, more than 830 kids ages 14 and younger die due to unintentional drowning. It should go without saying, but I will say it anyway: never leave kids alone near the swimming pool, no matter what their ages or swim capabilities are. Parents can and should take precautions around home pools, in addition to closely supervising kids while they swim. Installing fencing around pools, all the way around and with a self-closing, self-latching gate, can prevent 50 to 90 percent of accidental drowning incidents. Pool and gate alarms may also add another layer of protection.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates more than 205,000 kids visit emergency rooms with playground-related injuries every year. Many of these injuries could be prevented with a little precaution and adult supervision. Check the playground equipment before letting kids play on it. For example, surfaces that are too hot can cause burns and loose ropes may cause accidental strangulation. The ground should be covered in a protective surface, such as rubber mats, wood, rubber mulch, or wood chips – never grass, asphalt, or concrete. The right surface materials could reduce the risk of head injury or other severe injury in the event of a fall. Also, be sure that your child’s clothing is playground-friendly. Remove any strings (such as those on hoodies), use closed-toed shoes at play, and avoid clothing that is loose enough to catch on equipment.
Wearing a helmet while riding your bike is a must for kids these days. Nearly 300,000 kids make a visit to the emergency room every year with bike-related injuries, some resulting in death or severe brain injury. Wearing a helmet can help reduce your child’s risk of making such a visit. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sets standards for helmets, so be sure to choose one with its safety seal on it.
The CDC estimates that about 400 people die every year from heat-related illness. Staying hydrated in hot weather can help reduce the risk of heat-related illness. Keep water or sports drinks (with electrolytes) on hand to maintain hydration, and try to stay in a shady or air-conditioned location during the hottest parts of the afternoon. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends drinking about every 20 minutes if kids are active in sport – about five ounces is right for a kid weighing 88 pounds. Water and sports drinks (drinks that contain electrolytes) are the best options for hydrating kids. Be sure and avoid sodas, juice, and other fruit drinks. The National Alliance for Youth Sports recommends choosing beverages that contain 100 mg (or more) of sodium and 28 mg (or more) of potassium in an 8-ounce serving (if choosing sports drinks, watch out for high sugar content).
Regardless of age and skin type (whether or not you burn easily), the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone, adults and kids alike, apply a water-resistant sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays every day of the year. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, getting one blistering sunburn when you’re a kid doubles your chances of developing melanoma. Choose a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and apply it 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. Sunscreen should be applied every two hours (or so) and after swimming or vigorous activity (anything that causes you to sweat a lot).
Summer should be fun for your children, but first make sure it is safe so they can enjoy many more!