By Guest Blogger Milan D. Nadkarni, MD, Director, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Wake Forest Baptist Health Brenner Children’s Hospital
Summer is an ideal time for kids to play and have fun. However, the more active children are, the more at risk they are for accidents. This doesn’t mean you should discourage your child from playing, of course. It just means you should take a few extra safety precautions to help your child avoid summertime dangers.
- Don’t underestimate the heat. Dehydration can happen quickly, so make sure your child always has access to water when outside — and drinking it regularly. It’s also ideal for children to have their outdoor time in the morning or evening. When possible, keep them indoors during the hottest period of the day (12 pm – 4 pm). Also, you should be particularly mindful of the heat if you have a child with asthma. Make sure he or she stays hydrated and has a breathing treatment 30 minutes before any outdoor physical activity.
- Training and supervision are important when it comes to water play. Ensure every child in your family knows how to swim, and make them aware of water safety basics, such as no diving in the shallow end of a swimming pool. Younger children should never be left unattended in a swimming pool. Private pools should be guarded by a locked gate when not in use.
- Be aware of sports equipment and play equipment hazards. ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) are very dangerous, and avoiding them is encouraged. When it comes to biking and skateboarding, make sure your child wears a helmet. It’s also best not to have a trampoline or allow your child on a trampoline at someone else’s house. In the emergency department, we see many kids with fractures, lacerations and neck injuries due to trampoline accidents. If you do have a trampoline, follow these guidelines:
- Only one person should jump on a trampoline at a time.
- No somersaults.
- Trampoline springs should be covered with padding.
- Never keep a trampoline near a tree or any other structure.
- Don’t let children under age 6 on a trampoline.
- Always have an adult supervise trampoline activity.
- Don’t place a ladder against a trampoline.
- Other things to watch for. Small children should be supervised around fires — including grill fires and campfires. They should also be kept away from stored cleaners and pool chemicals. Make sure your child is always safely buckled in a vehicle; never allow him or her to ride in the bed of a pickup truck.
- In case of a serious accident, take your child to an emergency department. Safety measures are meant to keep your child out of an emergency department. But accidents can happen even if we parents take precautions. So, if your child experiences a fracture, head injury, significant blood loss or other serious symptom, don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1 or take him or her to the closest emergency department. For those who are nearby, Brenner Children’s Hospital includes a pediatric emergency department outfitted with the personnel and equipment needed to handle any acute injuries and illnesses children face.
Remember, you don’t want to take the fun out of growing up from your children. However, it pays to be careful and teach your kids to be responsible.. So encourage your children to have fun this summer. And don’t forget: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!