Summertime is fun time - and, unfortunately, injury time - for kids.
More than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger in the United States are injured in playground-related accidents during the summer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Emergency rooms and pediatricians most commonly see concussions, broken bones, cuts and burns from tumbles and other accidents while playing outside with friends or in youth sports programs.
Young people also get hurt from lawnmowers, barbecue grills and fall hazards.
Does that mean you need to keep them safe by enfolding them in bubble wrap confining them to their rooms? Of course not. Children need to run and play to keep their bodies and minds healthy.
There are a few precautions, though, that can help prevent everything from scraped knees to serious injuries.
Check Out the Playground Equipment
Today's modern play areas are designed to be safer. They are made of softer components and have reduced risks of falls. The U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission says playground equipment should not have "S" hooks or protruding bolts. Platforms should have guardrails and surfacing should not absorb heat to eliminate the possibility of burns. Also, parents should supervise small children if they are on potential fall areas such as stairs.
Have the Children Wear Protective Equipment
According to the Bike Helmet Safety Institute, more than 135 deaths, 40,000 head injuries, and 20,000 scalp and face injuries are suffered by children between ages 4 and 15 in the United States each year. Most of these injuries can be reduced through the use of bicycle helmets. Likewise, skateboarding injuries cause about 50,000 visits to emergency departments and 1,500 children and adolescents to be hospitalized across the country. Bicycle and skateboard safety equipment should meet or exceed the safety standards of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Secure Windows, Especially on Upper Stories
Window screens, designed for escape during a fire, can be easily popped out by toddlers. Youngsters also can usually figure out how to open windows without help from their parents or babysitter. Windows, where children play inside, should be secured at all times. Guards also can be installed to prevent the windows from being opened any more than four inches.
Keep Little Ones Away from Fire Pits, Grills
Wood, propane and natural gas fires are part of the summer cookout experience. They make hot dogs and hamburgers taste so much better. However, even after the fire has been extinguished, the grills can be hot. You should teach children to stay far away from the grill or fire pit and to never touch the grill plates.
Keep Them Inside When Mowers Are In Use
Lawn mowers are the major cause of foot and ankle amputations to children, according to healthychildren.org. Mowers also sometimes run over metal or wood - sending projectiles several feet away from the machine. Adults should never operate a riding mower when children are present. Do not let your children ride on a mower, even with an adult. Mowers should not be used at dusk or night when it is difficult to see.
Teach Them Pedestrian and Street Safety
Children under the age of 10 should never be allowed to cross a street alone. Older children should be taught to observe traffic signals, watch for turning vehicles and use marked crosswalks. If they are taking a walk using sidewalks and must cross a street, make certain they are wearing brightly colored clothing during the day and reflective material at night.
Take Precautions When Enjoying the Water
Among preventable injuries, drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1 to 4 years old. Children 1 to 4 years old are more likely to drown in a pool. Children 5 years and older are more likely to drown in natural water, such as ponds, lakes and rivers. Adults should constantly monitor children when they are in or around water, without being distracted. Keep young children within the arm’s reach of an adult. Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and kiddie pools immediately after use. When boating or swimming in a lake or river, everyone should wear a life jacket. Children ages 12 and younger are required by law to wear a personal flotation device.