Today's guest blogger is George Hobbib, MD, Director of Emergency Medicine at Nazareth Hospital.
Every summer, families look forward to being outdoors, vacations and cookouts. When school’s out, children can enjoy the long days filled with fun and adventure. However, summer is rife with risk of injury at a child’s every turn – burns, scrapes and bruises only scratch the surface.As a parent or guardian, knowing the common injuries seen in emergency rooms can help you identify and prevent potential risks to your child this summer.
It is important to remember education and supervision are the most important steps in preventing these injuries. Most child-related injuries are predictable and preventable. Depending on the child’s age, educate them about the dangers of specific outdoor activities.
Here are the typical mishaps that bring families to the emergency room and ways to prevent them:
1. Biking/skateboarding accidents. Bicycling and skateboarding accidents are among the most common emergency room visits among children. These falls can result in broken arms or wrists, mild concussions, or even abdominal injuries from landing on the handlebars. Encourage your child to wear a helmet and elbow and knee pads while participating in these activities. Wearing a helmet reduces risk of a head injury by 85 percent.
2. Playground falls. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries in the United States each year. Among those cases, children aged 5 to 9 have higher rates of emergency department visits for playground injuries than any other age group. Prevent this type of injury by taking your child to a playground with soft bedding or mulch.
3. Hide and seek. Sometimes an innocent game of hide and seek can turn deadly. Children often hide in unsafe places such as clothes dryers, old chests, and latch-type freezers and refrigerators. Since it is hard to supervise each child during this game, prevent injury or death by placing a lock on freezers, refrigerators and chests. Also, educate them on the dangers of hiding in confined spaces such as the clothes dryer.
4. Burns. In 2013, more than 126,035 children across the country, including 67,000 children four and under, were injured due to a fire or burn, and only some of those were from fireworks, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. Older kids typically endure burns from direct heat sources such as camp fires and grill burns, also known as “flash burns.” Again, the key to preventing this type of injury is adult supervision. Keep kids at a safe distance and teach them that fire pits stay hot long after the flames go out.
5. Bee stings. During the warmer months, children are at risk for being stung by flying insects such as bees, wasps and hornets. While most stings cause only mild discomfort, some may result in severe allergic reactions that require immediate medical care. One or two out of 1,000 individuals are allergic or hypersensitive to bee or wasp stings, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
If your child is allergic to bees or wasps, it is important to carry his or her epipen at all times. Make sure the epipen has not passed its expiration date. Otherwise, it may not effectively treat a severe allergic reaction. To prevent stings, avoid bright-colored or flower-printed clothing and cover soda cans and food. Inform your child to stay calm around bees and wasps and not to swat at them.