It is a time most families look forward to every year – summertime. For parents, the warm summer months are often filled with family vacations and cookouts. For kids, it is a chance to play outdoors and enjoy a few months without homework. However, doctors at Nationwide Children’s Hospital have recently noticed a trend in injuries that occur in children during the summer months that are both predictable and preventable.
With the long school days in the past, most kids become more active during the summer and often have more free time. Kathy Nuss, MD, associate medical director of Trauma Services at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and a team of doctors, have narrowed down a list of the most common mechanisms of injuries that cause children to end up in hospitals during the summer months.
- Falls – Falls are constantly topping the list of summer injuries. While objects such as trampolines have proven to be dangerous, many injuries arise from things that parents may assume are much safer. “We see a lot of kids falling from playground equipment during the summer months,” said Dr. Nuss, also operations medical director for Emergency Services at Nationwide Children’s. “If possible, find playgrounds that are spread with mulch or shredded tire; these surfaces add more cushion versus concrete or blacktop.”
- Bicycle injuries – According to The Center for Injury Research and Policy at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s, nearly 400,000 children younger than 19 years-old are treated in emergency rooms across the country every year for bicycle-related injuries. While the arms and legs are injured the most, head injuries are the most serious. Dr. Nuss says that wearing a bicycle helmet is critical. In addition to wearing a helmet, it’s important to use hand signals, walk the bicycle across busy streets and intersections and make sure the seat and handlebars fit the child.
- Burns – Burns differ by age group. Doctors typically see older kids come in with ‘flash burns’ which result from direct contact with fire, such as injuries from camp sites or fireworks. On the other hand, younger kids often suffer from ‘scald burns’ which result from contact with heat such as pulling hot food off the counter or water burns. To help prevent these injuries, older kids should be supervised when using fireworks or around a campsite and parents should keep hot foods/water away from the edges of tables or countertops.
- Motorized vehicles – From ATVs and scooters to cars and golf carts, children are finding their way onto many different types of motorized vehicles. While kids, both young and old, have little control over these accidents, parental supervision is the key to preventing an injury.
- Drowning – While drownings are not one of the top five summer injuries, near-drownings are a serious problem this time of year. These accidents often occur in backyard pools and landscape pools, but can also happen in just inches of water. Experts say that parents should always practice touch supervision – be close enough to reach out to the child at any time, be certified in CPR and make sure the child is wearing an approved flotation device such as a life vest.
“While it may be difficult to avoid these common summer injuries, it’s important for parents to keep a close eye on their kids this summer,” said Dr. Nuss, also an associate professor of Pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine.