Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Many parents urge their youngsters to play outdoors for exercise and health reasons. Unfortunately, the possibility of injury lurks outdoors and can take many forms. Summer time is the time of year known by emergency personnel as "trauma season" because it is when accidental deaths and serious injuries to children occur more frequently. Consider the following statistics: A 2004 report by the Safe Kids Campaign shows that an average of 17 children a day, or 2,143 children in total, died from May 1-Aug. 31 due to injuries, many of which could have been prevented. Also in 2004, 2.4 million children made emergency room visits due to accidental injuries. What can you do to keep your child safe while experiencing outdoor adventures? Follow the checklist below to eliminate potential outdoor dangers in your neighborhood: 1. Frequently look over your child's play area and neighborhood. This is the most important thing a parent can do to protect their child outdoors. In addition to your home, survey your neighborhood, including open public buildings nearby. Look for hazards such as chemicals, gasoline containers, sharp tools, sink holes, abandoned appliances, ladders, and other potential dangers. 2. Power mowers are responsible for 8,000 injuries to children a year. Follow the safety rules for lawnmowers. Keep children under 12 years of age away from power motors. Never let children under 14 years of age operate a ride-on mower. 3. Because children are notorious for tree climbing, it is important that the attractive climbing trees are healthy. Trees are also used in the summer for shade. Remove dangerous limbs before the danger intensifies 4. As much as possible, remove all so-called "attractive nuisances" in the neighborhood. "Attractive nuisances" are objects, such as old appliances or empty buildings, which draw children's attention and pose potential hazards. 5. Be vigilant with regard to construction sites. Construction sites are known to attract children. Sitting on the heavy equipment, climbing the ladders, pounding the lumber, the child's imagination has no limit. Check the area regularly to ensure that dangerous equipment and conditions are properly secured so that children cannot reach them. 6. Supervise your children at all times while swimming. Drowning is one of the most common
summer killers. Sometimes referred to as "the silent killer," drowning can occur in a matter of seconds without the parent ever knowing the child is in distress. Watch your kids while they swim, and take safety precautions to keep kids away from the pool when it's not being used. 7. Keep 5-gallon buckets away from toddlers, particularly if there is any amount of water or liquid in them. In less than 20 years, the CPSC (www.cpsc.gov) has reported 275 child deaths by drowning and 30 serious hospitalizations from five-gallon buckets containing liquids. Toddlers are top heavy, and once they fall into the bucket, they have difficulty getting out. 8. Keep your kids hydrated. The American College of Sports Medicine found in a recent study that two thirds of kids arrive at sports games and practices dehydrated. It's important to hydrate before, during, and after games and practices. It is also important to set boundaries with your kids when playing outdoors. According to their ages, they should have certain boundaries for how far they can travel from home and set times for when they must be back. If possible, it's also important that your child have a friend or sibling with them at all times in case of an emergency. Don Keenan is a nationally recognized child advocate and founder of Keenan's Kids Foundation (www.keenanskidsfoundtion.com), a non-profit organization that campaigns for child safety. His recently published book, 365 Ways to Keep Kids Safe (Balloon Press, 2006), is available at: www.balloon press.com and www.amazon.com.