Every four seconds, a child is treated in an Emergency Department for an injury and more than 9,000 children die from injuries each year in the United States. Fortunately, many injuries from common summertime activities can be prevented, notes Rebecca Peterson, RN, Injury Prevention Coordinator at Henry Ford Macomb Hospitals.
“The number of children who have died due to injuries has dropped nearly 30 percent over the last decade,” Peterson added. “However, injury is still the number one cause of death among children. More can be done to keep children safe and it is really comes down to common sense and good supervision.”
Adds Henry Ford Macomb pediatrician Raymond Buzenski, MD, “Anyone who knows children knows accidents do happen. But the last thing I want to see in my office is a child with an injury that could have been prevented. As the weather gets warmer we do see an increase in injuries from bikes and trampolines. Other dangers, of course, are presented by swimming pools, fireworks and even lawnmowers.”
This year sparklers are not the only game in town when it comes to legal fireworks. Larger scale fireworks – such as Roman candles and bottle rockets – are now legal for sale and use in Michigan. Among children injured by fireworks:
- 54 percent are under the supervision of adults.
- 26 percent are simply bystanders.
- 29 percent suffer injury to the eyes.
- 22 percent suffer injury to the hands
- 10 percent suffer permanent damage.
Parents can help avoid trouble by using these safety tips:
- Read and follow directions on any fireworks
- Never build or experiment with homemade fireworks.
- If you find firecrackers or other explosive substances around your home, call the local fire department’s non-emergency number for disposal guidelines. Do not dispose of them or light them yourself. Too many unknowns like age, moisture levels, and amount of explosive material make these substances and devices dangerous and unpredictable.
- Never underestimate the inventiveness of children, who sometimes try to concoct homemade devices. Keep potentially hazardous materials like lighter fluid, charcoal lighter and gasoline out of their reach.
- Never approach a firework after it has been lit, even if it appears to have gone out. It is likely to still be excessively hot and it may explode unexpectedly.
- Make sure spectators are out of range before lighting fireworks.
- Never try to re-ignite fireworks that have malfunctioned. Soak them with water and throw them away.
- Only light fireworks on a smooth flat surface away from the houses, dry leaves and any other flammable materials.
- Never throw, point, or shoot fireworks towards people, pets, buildings or vehicles.
- Consider safe alternatives for celebration. Attend a community fireworks display handled by professionals and observe bystander rules, remaining safely back from danger.
According to the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons, 246,875 medically treated trampoline injuries occur annually in the U.S. Of this total, 186,405 of these injuries occurred among children aged 14 or younger. Basic safety rules for trampolines include:
- One child at a time to avoid collisions.
- Place protective netting around the trampoline so kids won’t bounce off.
- Supervise children and do not allow somersaults or other high-risk “tricks.”
With all the water in Michigan, going to the pool or beach is a favorite activity for families. Just be sure to keep these safety tips in mind:
- Teach kids how to swim and keep an eye on them when they are in or near the water.
- Be sure kids are wearing life jackets, when appropriate. Ninety percent of drownings could have been prevented by using personal floatation devices.
- Keep kids clear of dangers such as personal watercraft.
- Keep pools fenced and locked when there is no supervision. Pool alarms are available.
Because lawn mowers are easy to use, children and adolescents are often charged with the weekly chore of mowing the lawn. Although mowing the lawn may seem a routine chore, both push and riding lawn mowers are powerful machines with the potential to cause severe and life-threatening injuries. Contact with the moving blades or the engine can result in a wide range of injuries, including burns, broken bones, and even amputation of limbs.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends children be at least age 12 before operating a push mower, and age 16 before using a riding lawn mower.
In 2010, more than 235,000 adults and 17,000 children in the U.S. were injured by lawn mowers, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Boys sustain 80 percent of lawnmower injuries, which most often occur on the arms or the hands.
Riding lawn mowers cause more injuries each year than push mowers, because they can tip and even roll over, placing a child at risk of being run over and severely injured.
“Parents and grandparents should resist the temptation to give children a ride on the lawnmower,” adds Dr. Buzenski. “If the child falls off, the sharp blades of a mower can injure the skin or go deeper into the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones. In fact, children – and pets, for that matter – should not be allowed outside while anyone is cutting the grass. Even flying debris such as rocks or sticks can cause injury.”
Bike injuries are the most common. Children should always wear a helmet and add wrist guards and knee pads to the list of they are on Rollerblades. Also, be sure children know and understand the “rules of the road,” use hand signals to communicate to others and walk – don’t ride – bikes across intersections.