Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer — a time of playground fun, camping, swimming and other outdoor activities.
When kids are outdoors, their sense of adventure and curiosity soars, which can, unfortunately, lead to a higher risk of injuries.
In fact, according to the Safe Kids Worldwide organization, each year 1 in 4 children age 14 and younger will sustain an injury that requires medical attention. The good news is that many of these injuries are preventable by following a few simple tips and learning how to avoid accidents and injuries.
“We know kids are active, especially during the summer months,” said John Cinotto, chairman of the board of directors of Shriners Hospitals for Children. “...We see patients every day with life-changing injuries caused by accidents. We’re always working to help raise awareness that our medical experts are here to get young patients back on track to the childhood they deserve, regardless of the families’ ability to pay.”
Here are some tips to help your family safely enjoy all the fun summer has in store. Some may seem obvious, but when it comes to child safety, you can never have too many reminders to avoid becoming complacent.
Drive with care
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death and acquired disability for children and teens. These tips can help you and your children to stay out of harm’s way while in or around vehicles.
• Teach your children to buckle up every time they get into a car, regardless of the length of the car ride. Buckling children in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats and seat belts dramatically reduces the risk of serious and fatal injuries.
• Check around your parked car for children before you pull away. Teach children to be aware of moving vehicles and to wait in safe areas where drivers can see them.
• Accompany young children when they get in and out of a vehicle. Hold their hands when walking near moving vehicles, and in driveways and parking lots.
While it may seem like just a common household tool, thousands of children are injured in lawn mower accidents each year, some severely.
• Teach children to never play on or around a lawn mower, even when it is not in use. They should never be permitted to walk alongside, in front of or behind a moving mower.
• Children under age 6 should be kept inside the home while mowing.
Fire safety simplified
Every hour, approximately 16 children are injured from fires or burns, according to the Safe Kids Worldwide organization. Use these tips to keep your little ones safe around fireworks, grills and other heat sources:
• Teach kids never to play with matches, gasoline, lighter fluid or lighters. Make a habit of placing these items up and away from young children.
• Do not leave children unattended near grills, campfires, fire pits or bonfires. Always have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby when burning fires.
• To ensure a safe celebration, leave fireworks to the professionals.
• If your child is injured by fire or fireworks, immediately take him or her to a doctor or a hospital.
The Centers for Disease Control revealed that emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children age 14 and younger for playground-related injuries every year. Before you let them play at the park or school playground, be sure they keep these precautions in mind:
• Use appropriate and properly fitting safety equipment when participating in any sport, such as helmets and goggles, which can greatly reduce the risk of head and eye injuries.
• Take your children to playgrounds with shock absorbing surfaces. Choose parks and playgrounds that are appropriate for their age. Check for hazards or broken equipment and continuously supervise your children while they are at play.
• Teach children to use playground and sports equipment properly.
• Remind children that pushing, shoving and crowding on the playground can result in accidents and injuries.
Make a safe splash
With more than 10 million residential pools across America, the opportunities for water recreation at home or away are plentiful. But so, too, are the chances of water-related mishaps.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death in the United States. Children are particularly at risk; 1 in 5 drowning victims is age 14 or younger. However, dedicating appropriate attention to your family pool’s maintenance and ensuring you have created an environment of safety will let you enjoy swimming and splashing with greater peace of mind.
The CDC cites “lack of swimming ability, lack of barriers to prevent unsupervised water access, lack of close supervision while swimming” as some of the leading risks associated with drowning. Preventive efforts such as learning to swim (or teaching swimming skills), ensuring at least one person with CPR training is present when the pool is in use and having proper safety devices (e.g., life vests and preservers) readily accessible help reduce injuries and accidents.
Put these measures in place so you can enjoy the fun at hand, without the worry:
• Designate a “lifeguard.” Always pick at least one responsible adult to monitor children at all times.
• Know CPR: Before investing in a pool, be sure to take a CPR class. The faster CPR can be administered to a person in distress, the stronger the long-term outcome.
• Keep your water clean: Pool safety also includes keeping the water clean and sanitary for your family. Invest in the proper tools to keep your water crystal clear.
• Enroll kids in swimming lessons: Teach the skill of swimming to children at a young age. Enroll kids in classes to learn the basics and avoid accidents.
• Teach the parts of a pool: Show children where to locate the drains, pipes and other pool openings. Explain the importance of avoiding these areas while swimming as they can cause harm.
• Keep an eye in the sky: Storms can strike at any time in the summer. Be aware of the current weather and the day’s forecast before you jump in for a swim.
• Don’t rely on toys: Swimming noodles, inner-tubes and other inflatable pool toys do not take the place of a life jacket.
• Keep a phone close: Always keep a cellphone or portable phone with you while supervising kids in the pool.
• Keep your pool tidy: Keeping your pool toys and other clutter picked up after use will not only help prevent trip-and-fall accidents, it will also be less tempting for unwanted pool guests to engage in unsafe activities on your property.
• Fence it up: Keep uninvited guests and potential accidents away from your pool property by installing a 4-foot or taller fence along with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
Pool maintenance essentials
A cleaner pool is a safer pool. The experts at BioGuard provide these tips to keep your pool looking its best for family and guests:
• Make waves. Constant water movement helps prevent bacteria and algae from growing and ensures that the pool sanitizer is evenly distributed throughout the entire pool. Circulating pool water during the day for at least 12 hours also helps the filter catch debris.
• Check that filter. Backwash filters periodically, and chemically clean filters a minimum of twice a season.
• Scrub-a-dub. Brush and vacuum pool walls once a week, even if you use an automatic pool cleaner, or hire a service.
• Test the waters. Every pool needs to be tested for the correct pH and sanitizer levels every week. Have a thorough water analysis performed by a professional every month.
• Keep that water treatment going. The right water treatment plan will both maintain pool equipment and keep the water inviting.
• Pool care doesn’t get a vacation. If a getaway is on your agenda this summer, plan ahead to ensure your pool is as pristine and inviting when you return as the day you leave. Work with a local pool care professional to create a vacation maintenance plan that matches your pool’s specific needs and takes into account how long you’ll be away.
Before you leave, clean the pool thoroughly, brushing and vacuuming walls and floors. Test the water and correct any imbalances. Set the timer or enlist the help of a trusted friend or neighbor to ensure the pump runs a minimum of eight hours each day while you’re gone.
Upon returning home, have a professional water analysis performed to ensure that your pool is properly balanced and ready for swimming.