Summer is in full swing and kids are everywhere, wringing out every glorious minute of summer vacation before it’s back to school. And you know what that means: a whole new round of bumps and bruises!
Summertime fun shouldn’t be derailed by a trip to the hospital. But unfortunately, more than 3 million kids in America under 14 will be rushed to the emergency room with serious injuries this summer, and 2,000 will die. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that the children in your life enjoy their favorite summertime activities safely:
1) Install a four-sided fence: Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for children between one and four years of age, and many of those tragedies occur when children wander away from parental supervision. Install a four-sided fence around your pool instead of a three-sided fence with the house forming the fourth side. Also, note that pool covers are often hard to see through and can conceal a drowning child.
2) Stock rescue equipment: Keep a shepherd’s crook — a long pole with a hook on the end — and life preservers by the pool at all times. An important note: Water floaties are NOT a suitable alternative to life jackets or life preservers. Instead, use life jackets and exercise arm’s-length parental supervision. In addition, designate a “water watcher” during any pool event at home. Download a water watcher card and other teaching resources from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
3) Encourage swimming lessons: Studies have shown that swimming lessons for children one to four years of age drastically reduces the risk of drowning — by up to 88 percent.
1) Properly fit helmets: Wearing a helmet is a no-brainer, but many children don’t properly adjust theirs. See this guide from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration on how to properly fit and adjust a bike helmet for kids.
2) Adjust bike seats: There are obvious dangers involved in riding a bike, like traffic or potholes, but crashes often happen because of a poorly maintained bike. Adjust a child’s bike seat so it’s two to four inches above the top bar. This guarantees that the child’s legs never fully straighten out and lock in the down-pedal motion. Also, check the tires and brakes before sending a child out on a ride.
3) Brush up on traffic laws: In most states, bikes are expected to follow the same basic bike traffic laws as automobiles. Educate your kids on the basics of bike traffic laws. Click here for more tips on bike safety for kids. Additional bike safety facts can be found here.
1) Use age-appropriate equipment: Some equipment is only meant for older kids, but most playgrounds don’t differentiate between separate play areas for tots and tweens. Supervise children to make sure they are using equipment appropriate to their age group.
2) Look for soft ground: It can be hazardous when soft playground turf deteriorates and isn’t replaced promptly. A fresh layer of wood chips, rubber, sand or other shock-absorbing material can dramatically decrease the risk of injury due to a fall from the equipment.
3) Find a certified playground inspector: The National Recreation and Park Association has launched a major initiative to train local citizens on playground equipment inspection and standards. To find a trained certified playground safety inspector in your area, search the CPSI registry.