With longer days and higher temperatures, summertime unfortunately brings an increase in injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 9 million children visit emergency rooms annually as a result of unintended injuries, and approximately 20 children die each day in the U.S. as a result of accidents or injuries.
The good news is that most of these injuries can be prevented with common sense and vigilance by supervising adults.
For example, all children should be supervised while near water, including pools, spas, lakes and streams. Accidental drowning claims the lives of about 1,300 children each year, according to the National Safety Council. To avoid injury, gates should be placed around all pools and spas at your home. Older children should be educated about water safety and taught to swim.
Other injuries occur as a result of children simply playing. Most parents understand that running, climbing, and playing games are typical activities for children, but adults should enforce reasonable requirements.
Whenever a child is riding anything with wheels (bikes, skateboards, roller skates, etc.), be sure the child is wearing a helmet. In fact, Pennsylvania law requires all cyclists under the age of 12 to wear an approved bicycle helmet.
And children need to be taught where it's safe to play. Hopscotch on the sidewalk can be fun, but playing ball in the street can be very dangerous. Set limits and make sure your children understand them.
Also, climbing on the backyard jungle gym is great fun for kids, but mom and dad need to make sure it's sturdy and has no exposed metal that can cause injury. It should also have a soft foundation of mulch, sand or matting underneath, and children should be taught not to climb in ways that are dangerous to themselves or others.
Keep these other tips in mind to ensure your children are safe and have fun this summer:
Keep children away from the grill and outdoor fireplace.
Keep all poisons, including pesticides and lawn and pool chemicals, out of the reach of children.
Make sure children wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, and re-apply sunscreen every 1-2 hours, even if it's advertised as waterproof.
Children who play in or near wooded areas should use insect repellant and be examined for ticks, bug bites and rashes after playing outside.
Teach children to stay away from unfamiliar dogs and other animals, and to never approach a pet without its owner present.
Trampolines are dangerous and should be avoided.
All terrain vehicles (ATVs) should also be avoided, as they cause more than 26,000 injuries and an average of 150 deaths among children each year, according a Consumer Products Safety Commission study.
Learn CPR, basic first aid, and teach your children how to call 911 in case of an emergency.
With some common sense and proper supervision, you can help make this summer lots of fun for children.
Because we understand the value of keeping families healthy and safe, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania offers information on children's wellness. Visit www.bcnepa.com/Wellness/Childrens.aspx to download free information on more ways to protect your children's well being.
Lesitsky is a board certified family practice physician with more than 20 years of experience, and is an Associate Medical Director for Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania.