Family safety doesn’t mean you can’t have fun this summer. An accidental injury is one of the top reasons a child visits the emergency room (ER). Although we think of summer as a carefree and relaxed time, this season sees a spike in ER visits. However, most of these accident-related injuries are preventable. We talked to Elaine Cudnik, APRN about some tips to keep our kids healthy and out of the ER this summer.
Family Safety in the Car
On average, 37 children per year die in a vehicle due to heatstroke. In fact, even on cool days the risk for heat stroke is serious. If you see a child (or a pet) alone in a car, call 911 immediately.
Be mindful of your child in the backseat. Life can get busy, and especially if you are traveling off your normal routine or schedule we suggest leaving something you wouldn’t normally forget, like your phone, purse, or even a shoe, in the backseat next to your child. This way you’ll be sure not to accidentally leave an unattended child in a hot car.
Go Beyond Sunscreen
While we all know sunscreen is important to avoid skin cancer, it’s also critical to have an overall sun strategy. In other words, sunscreen does not provide total sun protection. And it’s often applied improperly: too small an amount and not often enough.
With this in mind, use a variety of ways to stay sun smart, including:
• Staying in the shade or bringing shade with you (an umbrella or tent).
• Avoid being outdoors between noon to 4 p.m. (when the sun is intense).
• Covering up with lightweight protective clothing, including wide brimmed hats.
Related: Are You Using the Right Sunscreen?
Family Safety in, and Around, Water
Kids are attracted to water. It’s wet, shiny and fun! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), drowning is the leading cause of injury and death in children ages one to four. In particular, children can drown in as little as an inch, or two, of water. And it can happen quickly and silently.
Unexpected, unsupervised access to water is a large drowning threat facing families. With this in mind, swimming pools, hot tubs, bathtubs and natural bodies of water (such as ponds) can be life-threatening. For example, 69% of all drownings among children age 4 and younger happen during non-swim times.
The (AAP) recommends creating “layers” of protection to lower the risk of drowning, and other water-related injuries, to your child.
Their family safety tips include:
• During non-swim times, use barriers such as fencing with a locked gate. When children are playing in and around water, close and constant supervision become essential.
• Keep toys out of the pool area so kids are not tempted to try to get them during non-swim time.
• Always cover and lock hot tubs, spas and whirlpools right after using them.
• Swimming lessons for parents and toddlers, are a valuable step to water safety.
• Wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved-life jacket when out on a boat, kayak or during water sports.
Family Safety Around Flames
According to the American Red Cross, grilling causes over 9,000 house fires each year.
Their fire safety tips are:
• Never grill in a tent, camper, house or any enclosed area.
• Make sure pets and people stay away from the grill.
• Grill out in the open away from the house, tree branches or anything flammable.
• Keep the chef safe by using long handled utensils.
Family Safety Outdoors
Although we may not notice it, we live with wildlife every day. Wildlife encounters are usually safe, as animals are often scared of human contact.
However, the following tips can help you avoid injury:
• Leave wildlife to their natural habitat. You may encounter a wild animal alone. Do not assume it is lost or abandoned. The parents may be nearby watching or gathering food a short distance away.
• Contact a wildlife specialist if you see injured wildlife. Unless you are licensed, it is against the law to rehabilitate injured wildlife.
• Do not feed them. When you feed wildlife it can cause them to be dependent on humans. It can also make them less fearful, perhaps acting aggressively to get food.