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Long, lazy days of summer pose safety risks for kids

05-18-2011

Memorial Day weekend is the official start of summer and that means a change in routines for kids, as well as parents. As a result, there are more opportunities for accidents and injuries.

"Summer days are long, unstructured and can give kids more opportunity to get into potentially dangerous situations if they are not well supervised," said Lisa Pardi, RN, injury prevention coordinator for Akron Children's Hospital.

Here are just a few of the risks:

Water
"Memorial Day is the official opening of public swimming pools and almost every year we see at least one child rushed to our ER as a result of near drowning," said Pardi.

Close supervision is of utmost importance for all children around water – pools (even kiddy pools), creeks, rivers, ponds, and lakes. Unsteady toddlers can even drown in just a few inches of water. In addition:
Backyard pools should be fenced on four sides.

Have a telephone near the pool for 911 calls.

Wear Coast Guard-approved life vest on boats.

Enroll children in swim lessons.

Volunteer to help other parents hosting pool parties.

"Remember, children who have been missing for less than 5 minutes can be in trouble," said Pardi. "Drowning is silent. You won't hear a cry or scream."

Windows

Summer is synonymous with open windows and children can fall out them if they are running, jumping on a bed, or simply exploring. Pardi recommends that parents keep furniture away from windows and be aware that blinds are a strangulation hazard.

A good rule to follow: if your child suffers any fall that is one and half times his height, consult your physician.

Bikes

Bike helmets can save lives and protect your child from serious head injury.

"Parents should be consistent with their rules," said Pardi. "A child is just as likely to get hurt on a bike ride around the block as they are on a long excursion."

Also keep in mind:
Local ordinances require children 16 and younger to wear bike helmets.

Children 10 and younger should only ride on sidewalks and those who are old enough to ride in the street should know proper hand signals and traffic laws.

Parents should model safety and wear helmets too.

Sporty-looking multi-use helmets are a good choice for adolescents dealing with peer pressure.

Helmets should also be used with scooters, skateboards and in-line skates.

Kids in Vehicles

There are three scenarios that child safety experts fear, year-round, but especially during the summer:
A young child climbs into an unlocked vehicle and cannot get out.

Parents or caregivers, tired, lost in thought or out of their regular routine, unknowingly leave a young child in a car for an extended period.

A parent, running errands, leaves a child in a car, thinking it is safe for a few minutes.

"A child's small body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's," said Pardi. "Even on a mild day, heat stroke can happen in minutes and a crack in the window provides little relief."

Several safety-related videos are available on the Akron Children's Hospital channel on YouTube.

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Media Contact

Holly Pupino
330-543-4360
hpupino@chmca.org

Laurie Schueler
330-543-3400
lschueler@chmca.org