Summer is here. It is a wonderful time for kids to play outdoors. It is also a time in which many children get hurt while playing in the sun and water. Fortunately, most injuries and accidents can be prevented.
There are three important areas of summer safety for children reviewed below including water, sun, and children’s play equipment.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three children die every day as a result of drowning. All children should be taught water safety and how to swim starting during infancy and toddlerhood.
Children should always be supervised when in or around water, and adults should know CPR in case of an emergency. Life jackets should be worn by everyone when boating or enjoying recreational water activities.
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Children should also be protected when outdoors in the heat and sun. Children up to age 4 are at greatest risk of heat-related illnesses. Children should never be left in a parked vehicle and should be dressed in lightweight clothing when outdoors. Avoid spending prolonged time outside when it is especially hot.
Adults should be aware of the symptoms of heat-related illness, such as heavy sweating, weakness, feeling nauseous, weak pulse, and fainting. Seek medical care quickly if these symptoms occur.
All children, regardless of ethnicity and skin color, must be protected from the sun. Children who experience even a few sunburns are at increased risk of skin cancer later in life. A child’s skin can be protected from the sun by keeping them in the shade, wearing long sleeves and long pants, and applying sunscreen with at least SPF 30, to children older than 6 months, every time they play outside.
More than 200,000 children each year are injured while playing on playgrounds. Children should be closely supervised while playing on playgrounds to make sure they use the equipment safely. Children may also benefit from having adults help them use monkey bars or other equipment to prevent falls from occurring.
Trampolines are lots of fun for children and a great source of exercise, but are responsible for thousands of emergency room visits yearly. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended against backyard trampolines, however, if parents do have a trampoline for their children, it should only be used under adult supervision.
In addition, limiting the number of children jumping at one time to no more than three or four and advising children not bounce against the net or go airborne can help to prevent injuries. Bicycles, scooters, and hover boards are also popular outdoor activities for children. Helmets must be worn and other protected equipment, such as elbow and knee pads, are also recommended.
We want children to be active to play outside and to enjoy the summertime. However, safety is a priority and with adult supervision and the tips noted above, children can enjoy an injury-free summer.
Vicki Hensley is a faculty member at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing. Patricia V. Burkhart is Associate Dean and Professor of Pediatric Nursing at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing.