Most area children have been out of school for just about a month now. It’s mid-July, right in the heart of summer with families, like ours, enjoying backyard barbeques, trips to local community pools and many other outside activities.
Not to put a damper on the season, but this is a plea to parents to pay attention and not lose sight of the dangers that summertime brings. This time of year emergency rooms see those who’ve been victims of many preventable summertime accidents.
The youngest among us are especially vulnerable to summertime risks, with virtually a myriad of ways children can get hurt or even suffer a fatality.
I know it’s difficult to read the headlines about toddlers being left in hot cars, but these incidents continue to happen each year. Most are tragic accidents, with some involving children who’ve decided to sneak into a car for play time, such as Logan Cox, a three-year-old from South Carolina, who died last week from severe heat stroke after climbing into a car with his pet dog and becoming trapped.
Each year, we’re also reminded of the hazards involving water, for both non-swimmers and older children who decide to swim in the ocean or in creeks without lifeguards present. The Philadelphia region has been shaken by the drowning of 14-year-old Corinthian “Cory” Hammond off the surf in Ocean City, N.J., June 29. He and his friends were in the water after lifeguard hours.
Accidents clearly happen any time of the year, but certain warmer weather activities can be more dangerous, especially if caution is thrown to the wind. Some of these are simple, everyday events enjoyed casually in public places and private backyards.
Sticking close to home, pediatricians urge parents to make sure children wear helmets when riding bikes, skateboards and scooters because head injuries can be catastrophic. Cars and driveways also present another opportunity for risk. Despite the increased availability of backup cameras in cars, SUVS and minivans, playing children can easily be overlooked and possibly killed in back-over incidents in driveways. Finally, other simple summertime traditions, including barbecues and firework displays, also present opportunities for children to be burned or injured if parents and trained professionals aren’t keeping a watchful eye.
Summer is my family’s favorite time of year. The seemingly short season is a time for bonding, adventures and making memories, but it’s important to remain focused as parents. All-ages parties can be distracting for adults, who obviously like to socialize, too. So while you’re enjoying a conversation make sure that your child is being watched, especially if near water or other potential hazards.
“We can all take steps to attempt to avoid injuries,” says Mitchell Drake, MD, an emergency medicine doctor at Paoli Hospital. Drake says he encourages preventative measures whenever possible to ensure a healthy community.
“Wear bike helmets. Ensure children are supervised around water, and prepare for hot days by bringing plenty of cool water for kids to drink,” he says. “Be proactive, and be prepared.”
Drake, who along with his colleagues in the emergency room, says he sees a lot of sport-related injuries, heat-related illnesses and orthopedic trauma in the summer months. In addition to drownings or near drownings, he says that children sustaining diving injuries can experience severe hand and neck trauma.
“I recommend parents learn basic CPR. For sporting events, know if and where an automatic external defibrillator (AED) is located,” says Drake.
Although not always top of mind, stings from bees and wasps can be dangerous for those who are highly allergic, adds Drake. These individuals should “have EpiPens readily available in case they need it, not left at home.”
PBS has made available some summertime safety tips on its web site at http://www.pbs.org/parents/summer/summer-safety-tips-for-kids
Julia Sherwin is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives in Chester County. She is a former college journalism instructor who enjoys running, biking, swimming, traveling and cooking.
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and followe her on Twitter @JuliaSherwinPoP. You can also follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.
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