We hope everyone is enjoying the warmer weather and enjoying getting to play outside with your children! Unfortunately, injuries, bumps and bruises are a part of childhood, thankfully most are minor. Here are some tips to prevent more significant injuries.
Burns are one of the leading cause of injuries in children (especially young children). There are several things we can do to make our homes safer and prevent these injuries. First, ensure there is a working smoke detector on each floor of the home and near the rooms that everyone sleeps in. Be sure to test them at least every 6 months and promptly replace batteries. Be sure everyone knows the escape plan in case there is a fire, establish a safe meeting place.
Be sure to never leave food unattended while cooking in the oven or on the stove. All pot handles should be turned away from the edge of the stove, this prevents young kids from reaching up and pulling a pot off the stove. Never leave a child unattended near the stove or oven.
Set the water heater at no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, this will protect young children who aren’t able to get out of water that is too warm. Always test the water before your child.
Playgrounds are very fun for children, allow them to be active and teach them some independence but they are not without risk. Be sure the playground has a soft surface underneath (such as sand, wood chips or mulch). Also ensure your child is only using equipment that is correct for their age. Be sure the playground equipment is in good condition (not rusting or broken) and there are guardrails to prevent falls. Lastly be sure the ground is free of tree stumps, rocks, branches and other things your child could trip on or fall on.
Ensure your children know the rules and are using the equipment properly, for example, not climbing up the outside of the playground. Lastly, be sure your kids know what to do if someone gets hurt, especially if they are not with their parents. Most playground injuries actually occur at school.
Bicycles, scooters, skateboards, etc.
Kids should always wear safety gear when they are on anything with wheels. This includes always wearing a helmet. Wrist guards, elbow guards and knee pads are also important. Be a good example for your children and always wear the proper protective gear as well.
Cars and Traffic
Ensure your children are in the correct car seat for their age and weight. Once they are older be sure they always wear a seatbelt, be a good example and always wear your seatbelt as well. Kids should be in the backseat until the age of 13, airbags can be dangerous for kids under 13, the middle seat in the back is the safest. Check out the blog post about this topic on Pediatric Associates of Austin’s website for more information (http://www.pediatricassociates.net/blog/car-safety).
Children need to have the correct gear that fits well for whatever sport they are playing. Also be sure that their coaches are teaching athletes proper technique and have a plan in place for any injuries (especially concussions). Baseline concussion testing is recommended for any children in a contact sport. (Click this link for more information on baseline testing: http://www.sportssafect.com/services/baseline-test)
Since many sports are played outside, it is especially important to monitor children for heat related illnesses. Be sure they bring plenty of water and are wearing the appropriate clothes for the heat. Their coaches should be giving kids plenty of water of breaks, especially in the heat of the day.
The best way to prevent drowning is close supervision of children (within an arms length) in any body of water and around any body of water (including the bath tub). Children should learn to swim once they are physically and mentally able to.
Be sure all pools are surrounded on all sides with a fence, and self-closing gate with a latch that is out of reach of children. Life jackets should always be worn in and around oceans, lakes, and rivers. They should also always be worn while on any sort of boat or raft. Check out the After Hours Kids Blog on water safety for more information: http://www.afterhourskids.com/blog/water-safety
Young children are at high risk of ingesting something they shouldn’t. It is important that everyone has memorized the number for the poison control center. It should also be posted near the phone and saved in a cell phone. 1-800-222-1222. They are a great resource for any questions about what your child may have ingested and can advise you on what to do. Call them immediately if your child has ingested something and is awake and alert. If they are unconscious or not breathing, call 911 right away. If you take your child to their pediatrician, urgent care or the emergency room be sure to bring whatever they ingested with you.
To help prevent poisonings, it is important to lock up medications, cleaning solutions and detergents in their original packages out of children’s reach. Be sure to dispose of any unused or expired medications. Before giving children any medication be sure to read the label carefully and follow instructions from their medical provider.
Kids will inevitably fall (especially young children), but we want to minimize risk of falls causing serious injuries. At home this can be done installing gates and railings to prevent falls on and around stairs. Guards on windows on the second floor can also help prevent falls. Of course, supervising children (especially young children) can also help keep them safe.
The CDC is an excellent reference for more information on this topic! Many injuries happen after school, in the evenings, or on the weekends, After Hours Kids is open every night of the week until 1030. Call us (after 6 pm) or schedule online (before 6 pm) for a same day appointment! This blog is not a substitute for medical advice, be sure to talk to your child’s medical provider with any questions.