(Family Features) Summer is a time for playground fun, camping, boating, swimming, biking and other outdoor activities. Longer days mean more time outside and more physical activity, which translates to increased potential for injuries. Playground falls, lawnmower accidents, campfire and fire pit burns are some common childhood injuries that can happen during summer months.
“Sustaining a serious injury can be a life-altering event for a child,” said Chris Smith, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Shriners Hospitals for Children®. “We see patients every day with injuries caused by accidents and we are committed to raising awareness about how to stay safe.”
These tips from Shriners Hospitals for Children can help your family enjoy a fun, injury-free summer.
Go Outside and Play
Outdoor play provides physical and mental health benefits, including opportunities for exercise, creative expression, stress reduction and access to a free and natural source of vitamin D – sunlight. Before sending kids out to play, make sure they are wearing shoes to protect their feet from cuts, scrapes and splinters, and wearing sunscreen to protect against sunburns and harmful ultraviolet rays.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger every year for playground-related injuries. Before your kids head to the playground, keep these precautions in mind:
- Choose parks and playgrounds that are appropriate for their age and offer shock-absorbing surfaces.
- Teach children that pushing and shoving on the playground can result in accidents and injuries.
- Remind kids to go down the slide one at a time and to wait until the slide is completely clear before taking their turn. Teach them to always sit facing forward with their legs straight in front of them and to never slide down headfirst.
- Remind children to swing sitting down. Encourage them to wait until the swing stops before getting off and to be careful when walking in front of moving swings.
Make a Safe Splash
While playing poolside may be a blast, Safe Kids Worldwide reports that drowning is the leading cause of injury-related deaths for children ages 1-4 and the third-leading cause of injury-related deaths among those under 19. Additionally, the University of Michigan Health Systems estimate that about 6,000 kids under the age of 14 are hospitalized because of diving injuries each year, with 1 in 5 sustaining a spinal cord injury.
Prevent accidents and injuries with these tips to ensure your family’s safety around water:
- Instruct children to never swim alone or go near water without an adult present.
- Give children your undivided attention when they are swimming or near any body of water.
- Always jump in feet first to check the depth before diving into any body of water.
- Never dive in the shallow end of the pool or into above-ground pools.
Fun on the Water
Boating, tubing and other water sports can be great fun but can also be dangerous. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, nearly 71 percent of all boating fatalities are drownings, 85 percent of which are a result of not wearing a life jacket. Here is what you can do to enjoy the water safely:
- Always have children wear a Coast Guard-approved, properly fitted life jacket while on a boat, around an open body of water or when participating in water sports.
- Educate yourself. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 86 percent of boating accident deaths involve boaters who have not completed a safety course.
- Always check water conditions and forecasts before going out on the water.
Fire Safety Simplified
According to the CDC, more than 300 children ages 19 and under are treated in emergency rooms for fire- and burn-related injuries each day. Use these tips to help keep children safe around fires, fireworks, grills and other heat sources:
- Teach kids to never play with matches, gasoline, lighter fluid or lighters. Make a habit of placing these items out of the reach of young children.
- Do not leave children unattended near grills, campfires, fire pits or bonfires. Always have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby whenever there is an open flame.
- Take your child to a doctor or hospital immediately if he or she is injured in a fire or by fireworks.
- Leave fireworks to the professionals.
To see more tips, find activity pages and learn how to become a “Superhero of Summer Safety,” visit shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/safesummer.
When the Unexpected Happens
It was a beautiful, sunny day when Jordan Nerski headed to the playground with his mother, like millions of other kids on summer vacation. One minute Jordan was climbing on the jungle gym and the next he was on the ground with a broken elbow.
Accidents like these are why emergency room doctors and staff refer to the summer months as “trauma season.” During these warm, action-packed months, kids spend more hours active and outdoors, often without adult supervision, increasing the chance of injury. When these accidents occur, parents want the best care possible for their children.
Jordan’s mother Jackie received a recommendation from a friend who suggested that she bring her son to the Shriners Hospital for Children — Portland walk-in fracture clinic.
“The experience we had was truly amazing,” Jackie Nerski said. “It was a stressful time since he was in a lot of pain, but everyone from the greeter at check-in to the doctor made it the best experience.”
A simple and streamlined process, Jordan, equipped with an X-ray documenting his break, was checked-in at the fracture clinic, treated and casted in under 2 hours. Jordan returned with his mother for follow-up visits to ensure his elbow was healing properly and they found every visit to be stress-free and informative.
“At each visit, every care was taken for his comfort and to answer all my questions to appease my anxiety,” Jackie Nerski said. “It was an experience that was fantastic; though one I hope we don’t need again, but if we do, we know where to go.”
Including the Portland location, there are 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children in the United States, Canada and Mexico that provide specialized care to children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate, regardless of the families’ ability to pay. Of these 22 hospitals, 13 also offer walk-in fracture clinics.