Summer ushers in hot weather and fun times, but it also is known as trauma season, a stretch when the number of accidental injuries and deaths spikes. And it lands thousands of children across the country in emergency rooms. Every single day across America, 58,000 people are injured in their homes, and another 55 die, according to the advocacy group Safe Kids USA.
Medical director of Safe Kids Rehab Dr. Lisa Thornton gives tips on how to prevent summer injuries.
One big summer concern for parents with teens is drinking and driving. How do parents prevent mistakes from turning into tragedies?
During the long summer days, many teens have a lot of time on their hands. They are not supposed to be drinking at all, but many of them end up finding a way. Studies show that almost one-fourth of all the kids between the ages 15 and 20 who die in car crashes have been drinking. Thirty percent of kids nationwide admit to being in a car with a driver they knew to have been drinking within a previous month.
It's important to tell your kids not to use alcohol. But if they make that mistake, don't make an even bigger one by getting behind the wheel of a car. Let them know that they have other options. The first is to make sure that there is a designated driver. Second, even if there isn't one, find another way home. Don't allow someone to drive who has been drinking and by all means do not get in the car with anyone who has been drinking. There are other ways to get where you need to go.
A lot of families are traveling together this summer, taking long car trips across the country. But what is the hidden danger people don't often consider?
Seat belts -- during the summer months a lot of families are going on long car rides and vacations. When they head out, parents should always make sure to buckle up the kids properly. But during the ride, the kids get a little antsy and want to take their seat belts off. Don't let them. No matter how much they whine, you have to avoid the temptation to let them out of the seat belt. My son was a big whiner in the car seat. But we used to ignore the whining because we knew that his safety was more important than our comfort. The whining wasn't going to kill him, but not having a safety belt on might. And another important tip to keep the whining to a minimum and your kids as happy as possible is to schedule regular rest stops. This is to make sure they get a chance to stretch their legs and get the circulation going.
When it comes to preventable serious injuries, there may be no better safety device than the helmet. Bicycles, skateboards, pretty much anything with wheels, kids should be wearing helmets. But how can parents ensure kids wear them?
Kids should wear helmets on anything with wheels. Some ways to make sure they do that is to start them early. Make it a habit to impress on them when they're very young that wearing a helmet is not an option. Start them when they are riding tricycles, where there is very low risk. Second, make sure the helmet fits properly on the center of the head and is buckled at all times.
Finally, one of the best ways to make sure your kids are wearing helmets is to wear one yourself. Parents need to be a role model by wearing one anytime they do these kinds of activities themselves.
To many kids the summer means swimming. But swimming and other water sports can be some of the most dangerous summertime activities. What do parents need to know to keep their kids safe?
Summer is obviously the right time to teach your children to swim. And you should teach them early. You never know when you'll be in a situation where knowing how to swim can save your life. So don't be afraid of the water. But there are some things to keep in mind.
First of all, drowning is silent. Many people think it's like in the movies with the person flailing around making a lot of noise. It's not and it can happen in seconds. So parents need to have their eyes on the child at all times. I actually had a patient where the child was 8 years old in a backyard pool and a good swimmer. The father was physically there, just a few feet away from the child but his back was turned. This little girl almost drowned. She survived, but it takes just seconds. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security because your child can swim.
For times when you are not there supervising, the kids should not be in the pool. All pools should be fenced in to prevent accidents. And with any water sports, make sure the kids wear life jackets at all times.
Are trampolines really the injury magnets many people think they are, or can they be used safely?
Here's an amazing stat: 93,000 children are injured every year on trampolines. Two of the major organizations for child safety, the American Academy of Pediatrics and Safe Kids, both recommend against owning a backyard trampoline.
But if you are going to, there are some things you must know. Trampolines are only for children over the age of 6. For older kids who may use it, you must install safety netting around it to prevent major injuries that can result from falling off. But you don't even have to fall off the trampoline to hurt yourself, and injuries to arms and legs are the most common. Next, only one person at a time should be using the trampoline. And they should be sure to remain in the center because the edges, where the springs attach can be very dangerous. And as always, children should be supervised at all times.