Summer is here and that means, bonfires, fireworks and fun days hanging out by the pool — but all that extra fun harbors hidden dangers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accidents are the number one cause of death for kids ages 19 and under, and Stephanie Booza, the Injury Prevention Coordinator with Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township, says that the summertime tends to bring more injuries in than any other time of the year.
“No one wants to be in the house in the summer and more people are outside and being active, so we see kids coming in with broken bones, different kinds of burns, insect bites, trampolines injuries, dirt bike accidents and head injuries,” she says.
Lucky for parents, Booza also says that injuries are preventable in most cases if grown-ups keep a diligent eye out and talk to their kids about summer safety. Here are her tips to do just that.
Bonfires and grilling are both fun family activities this time of year. Of course, both of these activities pose a risk for burns.
To minimize this risk, Booza suggests that parents encourage kids to keep their distance from the flame.
Other burn risks include the use of fireworks and spending time outdoors in the hot summer sun.
To reduce the risk of sunburn, Booza says parents and kids should wear sunscreen and light clothing when out in the sun. She also recommends planning family outings in the morning or evening when the sun is less intense and keeping hydrated, which can help prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
You should also never, ever leave kids or pets in a hot car.
As far as fireworks go, Booza adds that kids should not be playing with them at all. Adults should be the only ones lighting them off and sparklers should be used with caution.
“Sparklers can reach 1,200 degrees,” Booza explains. “So, when you’re giving kids a sparkler, you’re essentially giving them a stick burning at 1,200 degrees,”
Those that experience a burn on their face or joints, or burns that blister or swell, should seek medical attention.
The warmer weather of the summer months brings more families to the lake or pool in an attempt to cool off. This means that drowning is more likely to occur this time of year.
“We see a lot of swimming-related injuries and drownings,” Booza says. “Especially in our area because we have a lot of smaller lakes and people own pools.”
Parents can prevent drownings by teaching their children to only swim when there is an adult around and by encouraging them to wear life jackets when on the boat or near the pool or lake.
Swim classes for the kids and CPR classes for the grown-ups can also minimize the risk.
Broken bones and bug bites
With trampolines, playgrounds, ATV and bike use increasing this time of year, it’s easy for kids to walk away with a knot on their head or a broken arm.
The first thing that parents can do to prevent such injuries is make sure that kids are playing on equipment that is made for their age and watch for trip hazards.
Kids who are riding their bike, roller skating or taking a ride on the four wheeler should wear a helmet at the very least — though Booza recommends wrist guards, elbow pads and knee pads, when possible.
Parents should also be aware of any potential bug threats in the area that kids are playing. Kids that experience fever, a rash that spreads, heat or pain at the site of a bug bite should take their kids to the hospital immediately.
Talking safety with kids
One important thing that parents should remember when talking to their kids about summer safety risks is that preaching at them doesn’t always work.
Instead of scaring kids, Booza recommends parents talk to them on their level about what could happen and to ask open-ended questions that allow the child to realize potential dangers for themselves.
“I have a 9-year-old and one of the things that we go through is some of the things that could happen,” Booza says. “If they recognize the dangers first that is sometimes a little better than us engraining it in them.”
To read more on summer safety in Macomb County, you can visit the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development at Make Macomb Your Home.
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