Summer is here and the kids have traded in their math books and spelling tests for lemonade and adventures in the great outdoors. But while the kids let loose, I am urging parents to heighten their awareness.
Unfortunately, a disproportionate 40 percent of all injury-related deaths and trips to the emergency room occur between May and August. As a trained pediatric E.R. specialist who has spent many summers working in the emergency room, I have seen the tragedies first hand. I won’t burden you with the disturbing stories, but I do want to bring into focus the risk of injury to children during the summer months.
This is the reality.
- Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in children age 1-19.1
- The vast majority (90%) of these injuries are preventable.
Keep summer memories healthy and positive by following this 3-step injury prevention plan. Have a discussion with your children’s caregivers to make sure they are on the same page.
- Prepare the environment.
Take some time before school lets out to scan your home environment, where roughly half of all injuries take place.2 Are any poisonous plants growing where the kids play or explore? Are the batteries in the fire alarms charged? Does the swing set need a tune up? Take a little time to take care of these issues now. Not only will doing so create a safer environment, but it will allow children more freedom in their play and lower your stress levels.
- Keep a watchful eye.
The trend lately is to loosen the reins on our kids. “Hovering” or “helicopter parenting” is quickly losing popularity as an effective style of parenting. But there is an important distinction between protecting our children and helicopter parenting.
Judith Warner of the NY Times (in her review of the book ‘Teach Your Children Well’ by psychologist Madeline Levine PhD.) describes helicopter parents as being physically hyper-present but somehow psychologically M.I.A.3 This typically refers to parents who take the reins of their children’s school performance, extra-curricular activities and social lives while being neglectful to the emotional needs of their children.
Protecting children from environmental dangers does not fall under the description of helicopter parenting. It is our responsibility as parents and caregivers to keep kids safe.
Discuss with your pediatrician age-appropriate supervision guidelines and commit to following them no matter what. Be especially watchful during parties – when adults gather, fewer eyes tend to be on the kids.
- Have a plan in place.
Keep a list of important phone numbers on the fridge – the pediatrician, poison control, your veterinarian (for your furry children) and the nearest hospital.
Review the following resources that I’ve compiled for you to get some more detailed safety tips.
26,000 children suffer traumatic brain injuries each year from bicycle falls or accidents.4 Sit down with your little cyclists and review these bicycle safety tips.
According to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children age 1-4.5Keep a constant watch on children when they are in the vicinity of a pool and keep in mind that drowning is inaccurately portrayed on TV. There is usually no splashing or yelling. Drowing is such a risk because it is silent, fast and can easily go unnoticed, even in the immediate presence of a lifeguard.
Backyard pools (the greatest risk) should be completely surrounded by a hard-to-climb fence (not chain link) at least 4 feet high with a self-latching, self-closing gate. Review these pool safety tips or purchase this on-line pool safety course developed by the American Red Cross.
To prevent sunburns, follow my sun safety tips.
Trampolines pose such a high risk of injury that many insurance carriers will not allow them. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against them completely with the exception of supervised training programs, such as organized gymnastics anddiving.
If you weigh the risk and decide to buy a trampoline anyway, read these guidelines set forth by the Mayo Clinic.
Curious toddlers have no idea about burn safety. Watch them closely and take some precautions by reviewing these burn safety tips.
Do you know the difference between a mild and severe allergic reaction to an insect sting? This WebMD article provides clarity and a protocol to follow in either case.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital Signs: Unintentional Injury Deaths Among Persons Aged 0–19 Years — United States, 2000–2009. April 16, 2012.
2. University of Miami Health System. Safety and Injury Prevention.
3. Judith Warner. How to Raise a Child. July 27, 2012.
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Head Injuries and Bicycle Safety. March 18, 2013.
5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unintentional Drowning: Get the Facts. November 29, 2012.
6. Mayo Clinic. Healthy Lifestyle, Children’s Health. March 16 2011.