Tips for keeping kids safe this summer
Summer invokes in most of us Rockwellian imagery of lemonade stands, riding bikes, pick-up softball games or lounging in the warm sun. However, it’s also a time when recreational injuries spike significantly. In fact, over half of Canada’s annual cycling-related hospital visits occur in June, July and August. Because children are the most active, they are the most susceptible to injury.The majority of summertime injuries are avoidable when taking the proper precautions. The old adage says “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” so here are a few tips to assist parents in keeping kids having fun and out of harm’s way:

Dehydration
While kids are running around in the yard or the park, ensure they get enough fluids to maintain their bodies’ temperature. Recommend putting kids on a fluid schedule: When the timer goes off every 20 minutes, they must take a sip from their water bottle. Hand these items to parents and students with this tip during a community outreach event or school educational series.

Sports Injury
Encouraging kids to participate in sports exposes them to many benefits, like the ability to test themselves physically and exhibit leadership qualities. Children are more prone to sports injuries than adults due to their slow reaction times and poor coordination; however, prevention of such injuries can come in the form of providing kids with properly fitting equipment. From equipping kids with the right-sized mouth guard or CSA-approved bike helmets with reflective strips, small changes can make a world of difference.

Drowning
Whether it’s in open water or in a pool, unsupervised kids and water don’t mix. The best line of defense is good old-fashioned vigilance. Help parents keep a watchful eye by equipping them with small whistles to blow in cases of an emergencies. Additionally, remind patients and parents that CPR certification classes are offered by local branches of the Canadian Red Cross.

Burns
According to a 10-year study by Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institute of Health Information, 494 children (ages 0-19) died and 10,229 were admitted to a hospital due to a burn-related injury over that 10-year period. During the summer months injuries are typically sustained from playing with fireworks or carelessness around campfires and grills. Establish a safe zone by setting up a barrier with flashing cones or glow-in-the-dark necklaces around grills and campfires.

Falls
Falls are one of the most common injuries and also one of the most deadly, typically because easy safety precautions are overlooked. At the park, playground equipment should be examined to ensure that everything is in safe and working order. In the home, most summertime injuries come from small children pushing through screens and falling to the ground below. It is recommended that parents open windows no more than 4 inches. If opening windows further is absolutely necessary to make it in the summer heat, parents should open windows from the top if possible.

Hearing Loss
While this last threat might not send a child to the emergency room, one should consider protecting sensitive ears, especially on those who are too small to protect their own. Noise-induced hearing loss is 100% preventable by taking simple precautions. Whether it’s during firework displays, festivals or at the race track, encourage patients to use earplugs on themselves or their children.

While adults should also care for themselves, it is important for everyone to care for the most delicate members of our society. In the case of any emergency, proactive preparation is the safest approach. Recommend having a booklet containing all vital health/contact information and a first aid kit easily accessible for users of any age.

Ubelacker, Sheryl. “Most summer activity injuries happen on bicycles: Study.” 28 July 2011.

Halecko, Catherine. “Why Kids Need WaterAbout.com Guide. 29 March 2012.

Ten-year epidemiological study of pediatric burns in Canada.” May 2008.

Fall safety for kids: How to prevent fallsMayoClinic.com. 29 March 2012.

Noise induced hearing lossNational Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. October 2008. 29 March 2012.

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