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Summer Safety and Children
Summer is here! It’s time for outdoor play, swimming, and BBQ’s. Here are some tips to help keep you and your children safe this summer!
Each year, approximately 400 Canadians die in water related accidents. You can never be too safe when being around water. For younger children, ensure that they are wearing lifejackets anytime that they are close to water (backyard pools, lakes, etc). For older children who can swim, a discussion about general water safety prior to boating or water activities is an excellent idea. If you are on a boat, everyone should be wearing a life jacket. Parents, that means you too! Model safe swimming behavior. Swimming lessons start as young as four months. It’s never too early to learn how to swim and be comfortable in/around the water.
Kids love trampolines! However, there are thousands of ER visits yearly from these devices. Approximately 115,000 ER visits occur each year in the United States alone. The risks are greater with children under five, multiple jumpers at once, or trampolines without enclosures. Injuries range from mild strains to significant spinal cord injuries. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, The Canadian Pediatric Society, and the Canadian Academy of Sports Medicine all discourage the use of recreational trampolines. To decrease the risk, supervise children closely. Only allow one jumper at a time and don’t allow children under five on this equipment.
Children of all ages can enjoy our community playgrounds. In fact, I often recommend taking your child to the playground as a way to practice gross motor activities and stay fit! Children as young as babies or early toddlers can enjoy playing on the play structures. That being said, always supervise your children closely. There are often gaps at the top of the structures (example, fire man poles) that young children can fall down/through. Know your children and their abilities. Guard them closely if they are climbing on something that is new to them, but allow them to explore and develop as well!
Road safety is a huge issue in the summer. As an example, my 3 year old knows not to run onto the road and knows always to check for cars coming before safely crossing. However, a few days ago her scooter rolled into the road and she ran after it. When I asked her why she did it, she replied “Because I didn’t want my scooter to be hit by a car!” More education on why it was better that her scooter get hit than her ensued. Message learnt by both me and my daughter. For young children, age appropriate education is needed as to why it’s not safe to go on the road unsupervised. Ensuring that your children listen to a “STOP” command is a great way to teach young children to cease what they are doing. With toddlers, I recommend a no nonsense technique. Before they go outside, tell them the rules about going on the road. If they go onto the road, pick them up and bring them inside immediately after it happens. When the child calms down (as they are very likely to be upset) explain that he/she made a choice to be unsafe and that maybe he/she can try a different choice later. Let some time elapse, and repeat this exercise. Road safety is learned! It takes training to learn this skill.
Children and infants can be at risk for heat stroke during our hot, humid summers. According to About Kids Health from the Hospital for Sick Children, the following groups are more at risk for heat related illness:
- Babies and young children – the surface area of their bodies is high compared to their body mass so they absorb more heat from the environment, produce more heat when exercising, sweat less than adults and may forget or not know to drink plenty of fluids
- Children with developmental disabilities – they may not recognize the need to replace fluids lost through sweating
- Children who cannot move or change position by themselves
- Children with chronic (long-term) illnesses such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis or heart conditions
- Children with acute illnesses, including fever, gastrointestinal infection or sunburn
- Children who exercise heavily, especially if they are not used to the heat, not very fit or obese
- Children who are taking certain drugs that reduce the body’s ability to regulate its temperature, such as antihistamines, diuretics or drugs for mental health conditions
- Any child who has had heat-related illness in the past
What can you do? Avoid excessive outdoor activity on days that are warmer than 30 degrees. Encourage your children to drink as much as possible. You can make your own freezies or popsicles to help encourage drinking. Spend as much time as possible in the shade, especially midday, and always wear a hat and sunscreen. For more information, visit: https://akhpub.aboutkidshealth.ca/article?contentid=1915&language=English
Have a great summer! Try out some new outdoor activities and have fun!