7 Tips to Protect Your Child from Summertime Injuries (and What to Do if Your Child Gets Hurt Anyway)
By Alicia Briggs, MD, Interim Chair of Pediatrics, Norwalk Hospital, Pediatric Hospitalist, Connecticut Children's Medical Center
For many families, summertime means enjoying outdoor activities — in the backyard, around the neighborhood, and at the pool, beach, park, or playground. Although these activities provide kids with opportunities to have fun, exercise, and spend time with friends and family, they also can put children at a higher risk for injuries.
In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 9.2 million children visit the emergency department each year as a result of unintentional injuries — many of which are preventable.
According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries in children younger than 15 years old. Falls can result in fractures, concussions, and back injuries that require emergency treatment. Other common — and sometimes fatal — unintentional injuries include burns, drowning, and trauma caused by pedestrian or cycling accidents.
Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe
Here are a few injury prevention tips from Connecticut Children's Medical Center (Connecticut Children's) Injury Prevention Center and Safe Kids Connecticut that parents and caregivers can follow to help kids have a fun and safe summer:
1. Buckle up for every ride. Make sure that every child and every adult is buckled up before you get on the road. In the event of a crash, unrestrained occupants are 30 times more likely to be ejected from the vehicle.
2. Wear a helmet. Helmets can prevent serious head injuries. Your child should always wear a helmet when skating or riding a scooter, skateboard, or bike.
3. See and be seen. Teach children to cross the street at street corners, or where there are crosswalks. Wave or make eye contact with drivers and make sure all traffic is stopped before crossing. Children's bikes should be equipped with front and rear lights and children should learn bike safety rules.
4. Look out for slippery surfaces. Whether it's a rain-soaked piece of playground equipment, dewy grass, or a wet pool deck, slippery surfaces can cause falls — which can lead to concussions, cuts, bruises, back injuries, and broken bones.
5. Be a water watcher. Parents and caregivers should pay undivided attention to children when they are around water. Young children should wear a life jacket when they are in or around water. Children should learn to swim. Every child is different, so parents should enroll children in swimming lessons as soon as they feel the child is ready. Children should be taught to only swim in a pool or other body of water when there is a lifeguard on duty.
6. Be careful when boating. Although state boating laws may vary, U.S. Coast Guard boating laws require that children under 13 years old wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) when on a vessel that is underway, unless the child is below deck or in an enclosed cabin.
7. Stay hydrated. When kids are having fun in the sun, it can be tough to get them to stop and take a drink of water. Dehydration can be dangerous, so make sure kids drink plenty of water during sports practices and other outdoor activities.
8. Use caution near grills and open flames. Keep matches, lighters, and flammable liquids away from children. Keep children away from grills and open flames and make sure children are supervised when these items are in use.
Getting Kids the Care They Need
Although it's important for parents and caregivers to follow these summertime safety tips, accidents happen — and every parent and caregiver needs to know how to get their child the right treatment if an injury occurs.
Some injuries may only require a visit to your child's primary care provider or an urgent care facility. But if your child has a serious accident, he or she may need to visit a hospital emergency department.
As part of a partnership between Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN) and Connecticut Children's, children who visit the emergency department at WCHN's Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital, or Norwalk Hospital will have 24/7 access to pediatric consultations at the bedside from Connecticut Children's physicians and physician assistants (PAs).
In addition to receiving best-in-class emergency care from pediatric specialists, children who are admitted to Danbury Hospital and Norwalk Hospital will receive on-site inpatient care from Connecticut Children's providers. These specially trained pediatric hospitalists and PAs will streamline communication between specialists, and support follow-up care with primary care providers following hospital discharge.
The partnership with Connecticut Children's also allows WCHN to offer multidisciplinary, collaborative sub-specialty care for children. If your child's injury requires care from a pediatric sub-specialist, such as a pediatric neurologist, surgeon or orthopedist, you can rest assured that your child will receive the highest-quality care from the physicians at Connecticut Children's — the only hospital in Connecticut dedicated exclusively to the care of children.
At WCHN, our goal is to provide children and their families with access to the best pediatric care close to home. We hope you and your child have a safe and healthy summer! Our pediatricians and pediatric hospitalists and specialists will be ready to care for your child if you need us.
About Western Connecticut Health Network
Western Connecticut Health Network is the region's premier, patient-centered healthcare organization serving residents of western Connecticut and adjacent New York. WCHN is anchored by three nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital, and Norwalk Hospital. We have an integrated network of more than 1,300 employed and community physicians and specialists, 70 Western Connecticut Medical Group medical and sub-specialty practices across 16 communities, and Western Connecticut Home Care. Our nationally renowned Rudy L. Ruggles Biomedical Research Institute is leading innovative research, especially for cancer and Lyme disease. Many of our advancements have been made possible by generous donors from our community and through the Danbury Hospital & New Milford Hospital Foundation and the Norwalk Hospital Foundation. As an academic institution, we are proud to shape the future of care through our partnership with the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine. WCHN employs nearly 6,300 employees including about 1,900 clinical staff. For more information, visit wchn.org. Share your comments with us at Facebook.com/DanburyHospital, Facebook.com/NewMilfordHospital, and Facebook.com/NorwalkHospital.
About Connecticut Children's Medical Center
Connecticut Children's Medical Center is the only hospital in Connecticut dedicated exclusively to the care of children and is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best children's hospitals in the nation. With a medical staff of more than 1,000, Connecticut Children's provides comprehensive, world-class health care in more than 30 pediatric specialties and subspecialties. Connecticut Children's Medical Center is a not-for-profit organization, which serves as the primary pediatric teaching hospital for the UConn School of Medicine, has a teaching partnership with the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University, and is a research partner of The Jackson Laboratory. Connecticut Children's Office for Community Child Health is a national leader in community-based