Last night I sat on my porch reading in the sunny, 70 degree weather, admiring the flowers popping up in our garden. I could smell someone grilling nearby and I felt jealous that I haven’t filled up my grill’s gas tank or even gone grocery shopping. Summer is officially here! People are now coming out of their indoor hibernation and the streets are flooded with runners and bikers who have been cooped up all winter. The warm weather and increase in outdoor activity has also been felt in the children’s Emergency Department (ED). I have been working in the ED these past few weeks and I have seen numerous fractures, sprained ankles, head injuries, etc. There is no doubt that we need to encourage our children to get outside and enjoy this great weather, but we must also help them stay safe and healthy while doing so.
Children have lots of energy, and summer is such a great time for them to use that energy for active play outside. Unfortunately, this is also a set-up for injuries. It’s been shown that injuries are the leading cause of mortality in children under the age of 19 years. The good news is that most of these injuries are preventable and there are numerous great resources for healthcare workers, families and friends on how to keep our kids safe while they continue to be their crazy, goofy selves.
Below are some basic safety tips to keep in mind and to let roll off your tongue frequently this summer with every patient, family member and friend:
- Wear a helmet while riding a bike, skateboard, scooter, horse, etc.! No matter how old you are or how short the distance is that you’re riding. Also, if you’re skateboarding or in-line skating, don’t forget to protect those wrists and knees. Being in a cast for the whole summer is no fun!
- Always review pool/swimming rules with everyone and make sure that children are never unsupervised.
- Any person riding an all-terrain vehicle should have a helmet, eye protection, sturdy shoes, and protective clothing. Also, anyone driving should be over 16 years old with a driver’s license.
- Protect that beautiful skin! Sunscreen it up. The sun is strongest between 10 a.m.–4 p.m., so limit sun exposure during this time and make sure that whenever you and the children are outside that you apply sunscreen of at least SPF 15 at least 30 minutes before going out and reapply it every 2 hours.
- Ward off those bugs, which can cause annoying rashes and potential infections. Don’t use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays. Use insect repellents containing DEET (10-30%) on any child older than 2 months.
I know that there are many other activities that our little, big fighters are doing this summer, but these are just a few general safety tips that we should all be aware of. Check out these resources for more detailed info and let’s all play a role in helping keep them safe and healthy this summer!