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Get into the Swing of Summer Safety

05/11/2015 04:50AM ● Published by Family Features

(Family Features) Summer is a time of playground fun, swimming, boating, biking, camping and other outdoor activities. Unfortunately, these activities can lead to a higher risk of injuries.

In fact, according to the Safe Kids U.S. Summer Ranking Report, summer is known as “trauma season” among U.S. public health and medical professionals because unintentional deaths and serious injuries increase dramatically among children during these months.

“Sustaining a serious injury can be a life-altering event for a child,” said Dale Stauss, chairman of the Board of Directors for Shriners Hospitals for Children®. “We see patients every day with injuries caused by accidents, and we are committed to raising awareness about how to stay safe this summer.”

As experts in the treatment of pediatric orthopaedic conditions, spinal cord injuries and burns, Shriners Hospitals for Children provides critical, surgical and rehabilitative care to children, regardless of the families’ ability to pay. “We prefer these accidents never happen, but when they do, our physicians and medical staff work together to get these patients back to being kids — laughing, playing and dreaming about the future,” commented Stauss.

The good news is that many of these injuries may be preventable. Here are some tips from Shriners Hospitals for Children to help your family enjoy a fun, injury-free summer.

Go Outside and Play
The physical and mental health benefits of outdoor play are great for children. It provides opportunities for exercise, creative expression, stress reduction and access to a free and natural source of vitamin D — sunlight. Before sending kids out to play, make sure they always wear shoes to protect feet from cuts, scrapes and splinters, and wear sunscreen to protect from sunburns and harmful ultra-violet rays.

Playground 101
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that every year emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries. Before your kids head to the playground, keep these precautions in mind:

  • Choose parks and playgrounds that are appropriate for their age and offer shock-absorbing surfaces.
  • Teach children that pushing and shoving on the playground can result in accidents and injuries.
  • Remind kids to go down the slide one at a time and to wait until the slide is completely clear before taking their turn. Teach them to always sit facing forward with their legs straight in front of them and to never slide down headfirst.
  • Remind children to swing sitting down. Encourage them to wait until the swing stops before getting off and to be careful when walking in front of moving swings.

Make a Safe Splash
While playing poolside may be a blast, Safe Kids Worldwide reports that drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for children ages 1 to 4 and it is the third leading cause of injury-related death among children 19 and under. Additionally, University of Michigan Health Systems estimates that each year about 6,000 young people under age 14 are hospitalized because of a diving injury, with one in five sustaining a spinal cord injury. Prevent accidents and injuries with these tips to ensure your family’s safety around water:

  • Teach children to never swim alone or go near water without an adult present.
  • Give children your undivided attention when they are swimming or are near any body of water.
  • Always jump in feet first to check the depth before diving into any body of water.
  • Never dive in the shallow end of the pool or into above-ground pools.

Fun on the Water
Boating, tubing and other water sports can be great fun but can also be dangerous. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, nearly 71 percent of all boating fatalities are caused from drowning, 85 percent of which are a result of not wearing a life jacket. Here is what you can do to enjoy the water safely:

  • Always have children wear a Coast Guard-approved, properly fitted life jacket while on a boat, around an open body of water or when participating in water sports.
  • Educate yourself. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 86 percent of boating accident deaths involve boaters who have not completed a safety course.
  • Always check water conditions and forecasts before going out on the water.

Mowing Matters
Thousands of children are injured in lawn mower accidents each year, some severely. Lawn mower injuries account for a large percentage of accidental amputations according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The Academy cautions that the speed of a typical lawn mower blade can send dirt and bacteria deep into a wound, creating a high risk for severe infection. To avoid accidents involving lawn mowers, keep these tips in mind:

  • Teach children to never play on or around a lawn mower, even when it is not in use. They should never be permitted to walk beside, in front of or behind a moving mower.
  • Children under 6 years of age should be kept inside the home while mowing.
  • Children should be at least 12 years of age before operating a push lawn mower and at least 16 years of age before operating a riding lawn mower.

Fire Safety Simplified
In 2012, more than 136,000 children across the United States, including more than 67,000 children 4 and under, were injured due to a fire or burn and treated in emergency rooms, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. Use these tips to keep children safe around fires, fireworks, grills and other heat sources:

  • Teach kids to never play with matches, gasoline, lighter fluid or lighters. Make a habit of placing these items up and away from young children.
  • Do not leave children unattended near grills, campfires, fire pits or bonfires. Always have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby whenever there is a burning fire.
  • Take your child to a doctor or hospital immediately if he or she is injured in a fire or by fireworks.

Shriners Hospitals for Children encourages families to take these precautions to enjoy a safe, injury-free summer. If an injury occurs, the physicians and staff of Shriners Hospitals can help. To find out more about the treatments available visit ShrinersHospitalsforChildren.org.

Adapting After an Accident
Thirteen-year-old Sydney Kendall knows the importance of water safety. After losing her right forearm during a boating accident six years ago, Sydney was brought to Shriners Hospitals for Children where she received a prosthesis and occupational therapy to help her learn how to adapt.

As Sydney’s confidence grew, so did her ambition to get back in the water. She became a Shriners Hospitals for Children Patient Ambassador and challenged herself to mentor other patients through ability awareness presentations. She also joined a competitive swim team and participated in a triathlon.

Sydney’s newest challenge is to help increase awareness about summer safety. She invites parents and children to visit ShrinersHospitalsforChildren.org/SafeSummer to find tips for preventing injuries this season.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (three children with arms raised)

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (child on swing)

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