By now, you and your children are full-swing into summertime activities, and it won’t be too long before school is back in session. Ensure that your child enjoys the remainder of the summer by taking precautions with outdoor activities.
At your home playground, neighborhood park or school, always take a minute to inspect equipment for broken parts or sharp edges so they don’t gouge or pinch your child. Make sure that all S-hooks are properly closed and that wooden parts don’t have splinters. Repair discrepancies or let appropriate people know about the problem so they can repair it. Metal parts also can become very hot, so feel the surface before your child hops on.
When designing a home playground or choosing a public playground, one of the first items to consider is the landing zone. Sand, rubber mats or wood chips under and around the equipment provide a soft landing and can help prevent many injuries.
Educate your children about safety, including not walking in front of or behind swings in use, having one child on the slide ladder at a time, not playing on the sliding surface and moving away from the bottom as soon as possible after going down. Keeping children age 5 and younger separate from older and bigger children during playtime can help decrease episodes of injuries.
A 2006 Consumer Product Safety Review report said that approximately 110,000 people are injured on trampolines each year, two-thirds of them between the ages of 6 and 14.
Most injuries are minor, but head and neck injuries are common, and some deaths have occurred. Risks increase if more than one child is on a trampoline at a time and when performing flips. Factory safety nets can help prevent some injuries. Remove the ladder next to the trampoline to limit access by small children.
Adult supervision, preferably a strong swimmer, is always required for our little swimmers. Drowning can happen very quickly, even if you only leave a child for a minute. Swimming lessons are helpful, but they do not “drown-proof” children.
Make sure your pool has a sturdy fence around it to keep children out. The gate should swing outward and be spring-loaded so it closes and latches without assistance. Installing an alarm on gates or doors helps decrease the risk of drowning. Make sure that pool drains have proper covers as suction from the drain can pull and trap a child underwater.
Make sure that any pool you use has safety equipment. A life preserver or ring and a shepherd’s crook (pole with loop) should be standard equipment. Have a cellphone or portable phone at the pool in case of an emergency. And don’t forget to apply sunscreen frequently as the water will wash it off.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that 600 children die from bike accidents each year and several hundred thousand are injured. Traffic is a constant concern when bicycling, so make sure your children know the rules of the road. They should ride on the right side of the road with traffic, stop at all stop signs and red lights and use hand signals to warn drivers of their next move. Bright-colored clothing helps motorists see cyclists.
Safety equipment is important, too. Make sure your children wear helmets designed specifically for bicycles for every ride, even short ones. Football helmets or other hard hats do not protect the skull from impact that can occur in a cycling accident. Your child also should be riding a bike appropriate for his or her size. A bike that is too big or too small makes it difficult for a child to control. Never allow children to ride at dusk or after dark. Bike reflectors and reflective vests are helpful but do not make it safe to ride in the dark.
One of the most important components for summertime safety is a responsible adult. Educational classes, including CPR, first aid and bicycle safety, are available through the American Red Cross (www.midwaykansas.redcross.org) and other organizations. Please make safety a priority.