As the spring and summer months approach, the warmer weather provides more opportunity for children to enjoy the outdoors — and unfortunately, more opportunity for injury. Children have a free spirit and often do not recognize the consequences that accompany risk during playtime.
While we want to “let kids be kids,” as they say, safety comes first.
While we want to “let kids be kids,” as they say, safety comes first. As parents and caretakers, it’s important to be aware of potential injuries and take preventive measures to keep your kids safe, healthy and happy.
Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal unintentional injury for children under 15 years of age. While complete prevention of falls is nearly impossible — they are kids, after all — there are many prevention measures you can take to reduce the number of falls and severity of injury.
- Stairs: Use safety gates at the top and bottom of staircases. For doors that enter into staircases, consider using doorknob covers on the door. Remove any clutter that is along the stairs to prevent tripping.
- Furniture: Don’t leave infants/toddlers unattended on furniture. Install safety rails on beds for toddlers and assure that the mattress is at an appropriate height to prevent infants from falling out of bed. Supportive seats and car carriers should be placed at a floor level rather than on furniture and counter tops. These can tip forward causing severe head injury.
- Shopping carts: Children can easily fall out of shopping carts, even if you’re using a car seat. Only put a child in the designated seat and use the safety belt.
Water safety basics
Children between the ages of 1 and 4 years old are at greater risk for preventable injury and death related to drowning.
- The single most important prevention measure is to never, ever leave your child alone around water, not even for a short time.
- Educate older children on the importance of playing safely in the pool. Make sure all children know what to do if they start to feel unsafe in the water or notice another child in danger.
- Start swim lessons as early as your child’s doctor recommends.
- Consider the use of “water watcher tags.” These are helpful in knowing who is responsible for watching the child or children. If there is a need to step away, the water watcher tag is passed on to the next responsible adult who knows at that time they are responsible for watching the kids.
Protecting against sports injuries
There are many benefits for children participating in sports, including social and physical benefits. While participation in sports should be encouraged and supported, there are a few simple tasks that can help reduce preventable sports injuries.
- Encourage your child to drink water before, during and after any sports activity to assist in hydration.
- Stretch appropriately before and after games to prevent sports-related injuries such as sprains.
- For any sport that offers the use of a helmet, the helmet should be fitted to your child for the most appropriate size.
- Make sure your child isn’t specializing in a sport too soon.
Helmet safety tips
A properly fitted helmet can reduce the risk of head injuries by at least 45%, yet a very small percentage of children wear helmets. Helmets should be worn while riding a bike, scooter or any all-terrain vehicle (ATV).
- If your child puts up a fight because helmets aren’t “fashionable” or “cool,” consider allowing him or her to decorate or pick out a helmet that they enjoy. This allows them to have the choice of helmet.
- As a parent, make sure your child knows when and why they need to wear the helmet.
Proper car seat safety
When used correctly, child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71%. However, nine out of every 10 car seats we check are installed incorrectly.
- The most important tip to child passenger safety is to ride rear facing as long as possible until at least 2 years of age.
- Makes sure you’re using the appropriate size car seat for your child. This is imperative for safety.
- Don’t fall prey to these common car seat safety mistakes.
The teenage years bring an exciting time for teens as they gain independence and start to drive, but this comes with great risks without the appropriate education and parental expectations.
Every day, six teenagers are killed in motor vehicle crashes, the leading cause of death for teens.
- Spend as much time as possible teaching your children safe driving protocols and include the importance of limiting distractions in the vehicle.
- Consider making a formal agreement with your teen. If he or she has clear understanding of what is allowed and expected, it may lead to taking fewer risks behind the wheel.
- Practice what you preach. Remember: when you’re driving, they’re watching.
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About the author
Kayla Cehand, BSN, RN, CPN, CPST, is a trauma and injury prevention coordinator at Baylor Scott & White McLane Children's Medical Center – Temple. Cehand studied at Temple College and University of Texas at Arlington, and she strives to make an impact on decreasing preventable injuries and death in children.