When the weather warms up in southeast Idaho, it’s time to get outdoors and enjoy! Adults and children alike will want to take advantage of the seasonal activities that make living here so fun. Just remember that the increase in outdoor activities also brings an increased risk for injuries, and making a trip to the ER is no fun at all. To help ensure that’s one trip you can skip this season, follow our tips to help keep kids safe this spring and summer.
Common seasonal injuries that send kids to the ER
Pediatric medicine experts have unfortunately labeled spring and summer as “trauma season.” According to the CDC, unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in children and teens, so it’s smart to brush up on seasonal safety and injury prevention.
Some of the most common spring and summer injuries include:
- Head injuries, concussions and broken bones from activities such as:
- Recreational and motor vehicle crashes
- Sports and cheerleading
Always call 911 if you believe someone has a life-threatening injury. For serious injuries that are not life-threatening, a pediatric ER, such as the one at EIRMC, can offer your child comprehensive, age-appropriate treatment and compassionate care.
Tips to prevent burns
Burn injuries often happen during the spring and summer when families are outside grilling food, gathering around campfires and enjoying fireworks. Children are especially susceptible to burn injuries because of their natural curiosity. Here are the two most important things you can do to keep kids from getting burned:
- Never leave stoves, fires, grills, cooktops, candles or fireworks lit or unattended.
- Keep small children and pets away from all flammable heat sources.
Additionally, make sure heat sources are a safe distance from structures, trees and children’s play areas and use only nonflammable seating that is placed at least four feet away.
Tips to prevent drowning
Drowning is a preventable tragedy that claims the lives of more children ages 1 to 4 than any other cause. To help keep your kids safe while in the water, follow these water safety tips:
- Enroll kids in formal swimming lessons and water safety classes.
- Fully enclose your pool and separate it from the house with a fence at least four feet high, with self-closing and self-latching gates.
- Supervise children closely — even those who have completed swimming lessons.
- Insist that all children wear life jackets while in and around natural water (lakes, rivers, oceans) and that weaker swimmers wear them even in pools.
- Become proficient in CPR.
Always call 911 if a child or adult is involved in a drowning incident.
Tips to prevent head injuries and broken bones
Healthy, active kids fall, crash, bump and tumble. In many cases, there’s not much parents can do about it. But there are steps you can take to minimize the damage that can occur from playtime or sports activities. Here are some tips to help your kids avoid head injuries, concussions and broken bones:
- Wear a helmet. If a helmet is available for your child’s activity or sport, insist they wear it. And remember that this applies to activities such as ATVs and horseback riding just as much as It does to bicycles and motorcycles. Parents can set a good example (and stay safer) by wearing a helmet, too. Helmets should be well-fitted and maintained, worn consistently, and appropriately certified for use.
- Wear pads. Protective padding is available for sports and activities from football to mountain biking to ATV riding and more. Check with a coach, sporting goods store or credible online source to find out what’s recommended for each of your child’s interests.
- Buckle up. If kids are on any sort of wheels this season, make sure the vehicle is appropriate for their age and size and is carrying no more than the maximum weight or number of riders. If there’s a seatbelt or safety harness, make sure they use it.
- Stay hydrated and get enough sleep. Kids who are lethargic or sleepy are at higher risk for making mistakes that can lead to injuries. Proper nutrition and sleep can help them avoid mishaps.
- Scope out playgrounds. For younger kids, falls from playground equipment and trampolines top the list of injuries. In addition to keeping an eye on kids at all times, make sure playground equipment is age-appropriate and in good condition, with handrails for safety. Check for obstructions that can trip your child, such as rocks or tree stumps.
If you suspect your child may have a head injury or broken bone, seek medical treatment immediately.
Tips for preventing hot car deaths
In addition to injuries from seasonal activities and sports, spring and summer also brings increased risk of children being left in hot cars. Pediatric vehicular heatstroke is another preventable tragedy, like drowning, that can be avoided with thoughtful preparation.
Here are several ways to help prevent leaving children in hot cars:
- Never leave a child unattended in a car for any reason. Always take your children with you.
- Put your phone, purse, briefcase or even one of your shoes in the backseat with your child so that you have to retrieve your personal items before leaving the car.
- End phone conversations before leaving the car so you won’t be distracted.
- Make it a habit to check your entire vehicle before locking the door and walking away.
- Always lock your car at home and store keys out of reach so kids don’t play in vehicles and accidentally lock themselves in.
If you see a child locked in a car, get them out immediately and call 911.
Spring and summer offer many opportunities for kids to get outside and connect with nature, family and friends. We hope these tips will help yours stay safe so the only trips you’ll take are the fun ones.
EIRMC is a Level II Trauma Center and the only Burn Center in the state of Idaho. We treat more children in the Pediatric ER, Pediatric ICU and general Pediatric floor than any other hospital in southeast Idaho.