Posted on July 02, 2015
The kids are out of school and it’s 4th of July weekend! With fun-filled family trips, summer camps, lazy days at the pool or at the beach, and hours of fun riding bikes or playing at the playground with friends in the neighborhood, our children are looking forward to lots of fun—without a second thought of the increased risk for injury.Be Aware of Summer Dangers
Many parents underestimate the special safety threats that summer brings, says Garry Gardner, M.D. and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Injury and Poison Prevention Committee. “Kids are spending the bulk of their time outside, which raises their risk of getting hurt,” he says.
The four-month period from May through August is the most dangerous time of year, with nearly three million child medical emergencies and 2,550 deaths because of accidental injuries, according to a study by the National Safe Kids Campaign reported by ABC News. Those deaths represent 42% of the average annual total, the study found.
Child magazine spoke with leading health experts to discover summer hot spots where injuries occur most often:
Approximately 200,000 children are treated in the country’s emergency rooms each year for playground injuries. In fact, according to the National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS), one child is hurt every two minutes. Experts recommend that you check out playgrounds yourself—ideally, before you bring your child. The most critical component: Cushy ground surfaces since 79% of injuries are fall-related. Look for nine to 12 inches of sand, pea gravel, wood products, rubber products, or mats. Walk away if you see cement, asphalt, dirt, or grass because these surfaces are linked to head injuries.
Next, examine the equipment for gaps where a child’s head could get stuck, hot surfaces, pinch points, sharp edges, and catch points like protruding bolts or gaps (where zippers or clothing might get caught). If the playground has tire swings, look for a hole at the bottom that allows water to drain; otherwise, they’re likely to breed mosquitoes. Also, have your child avoid jackets with hoods, jewelry, jump ropes, and bicycle helmets—all of these can get tangled in playground equipment. To help prevent falls, have your child wear rubber-soled shoes.
Approximately 1,500 U.S. children drown annually and for every drowning there are six to 10 near-drownings, which can result in permanent brain damage. Backyard pools pose the greatest risk to children, but nearly one in five drownings occurs in a public pool with certified lifeguards present, according to data from the National Safety Council.
How is that possible? Drowning isn’t a noisy event—it’s swift and nearly silent. The child’s head slips under water, she takes one lungful, and she’s gone. Undertrained or overstretched lifeguards simply may not spot a child who needs help. Lifeguards should be able to scan and supervise their entire area of responsibility from one side and back within a 30-second period. If this isn’t possible, there aren’t enough lifeguards. Incidents typically occur because a lifeguard is inappropriately positioned, is busy with other duties, or is distracted by talking.
Supervision is the key to pool safety. You should never take your eyes off your child. Since nearly all pool injuries are a result of “horsing around,” you should make sure your child follows the pool rules…especially the one about no running. If the park or pool permits it, insist that your child wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket if she isn’t a capable swimmer. What about water wings? Don’t rely on them as a safety device; use them only with close adult supervision.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more than 8,000 Americans, many of them children, land in the ER because of an injury suffered at an amusement park. No agency can compile exact statistics because the amusement park industry isn’t uniformly regulated, or, in some cases, regulated at all.
The federal government oversees traveling carnival rides and puts amusement parks in the hands of the states. Some states do a good job; some don’t. Only 37 states require public reporting of amusement park accidents, and many of those states limit reporting to deaths and catastrophic injuries. Injuries such as broken bones and concussions are reported in only 24 states. Visit www.saferparks.org to see a state-by-state guide to ride regulations.
Before you leave for the park, talk to your children about the importance of keeping their hands and feet inside a ride, never turning around, and not exiting a ride until it has completely stopped. You don’t want your excited child to hear this for the first time when she’s next in line for a ride. Breaking these rules is the most common cause of injuries.
Besides observing the height or age rules, select rides with containment systems like belts or harnesses for young children. Also get a read on whether your child will be able to go on it without panicking. If your child wants to go on and you have doubts, tag along with him. If he doesn’t want to ride, listen to him.
Opt for a beach with lifeguards. Not having them increases the risk of drowning five-fold, according to the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA). Ask lifeguards about the safest area to swim and hazards to avoid, like jelly fish. But perhaps lifeguards’ most common task is something unexpected. “They frequently reunite parents and kids who have become separated,” says B. Chris Brewster, USLA’s liaison officer. If your child wanders off, tell a lifeguard.
Drownings often involve single swimmers. Young children should never enter the water without adult supervision and should be kept within arm’s reach of an adult at all times. Also keep a close eye on your child when he’s playing on the beach. Several children have died or been severely injured when they were buried in collapsed sand holes.
Rip currents are the top cause of injury and fatalities at beaches. So how can you escape one? Swim parallel to the beach rather than toward it.
Stick to U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Rafts, tubes, and other inflatable gear aren’t safety devices, because they can suddenly lose air or slip out from underneath. They also may entice kids to go into water in which they normally wouldn’t be comfortable. If your children do use these devices, stay with them at all times.
When Accidents Happen, Think CCHC Urgent Care
Unfortunately, no matter how vigilant we as parents are, not all summer accidents can be prevented. Your physician’s office may offer same-day appointments for care, but urgent care is a great option when appointments are unavailable or if you need treatment outside normal office hours. Thankfully, CCHC’s New Bern Family Practice Urgent Care is open seven days a week and ready to examine any injury your child may suffer. Whether you’re dealing with an earache, or a cut, insect or pet bites, sprains, fractures, or breathing issues, a highly-qualified team of doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners are on hand to help.
Skip ER Wait Times and High Costs
ERs across the country are filled with patients who would best be served by an urgent care center. These numbers put a tremendous strain on ER staff and drastically increases patients’ wait times. Going to the ER also delivers a serious hit to your wallet: An Annals of Internal Medicine study found that the average cost of an ER visit for three common illnesses—middle ear infection, sore throat, and urinary tract infection—was $570.
But you may argue, “If I need an X-ray, an EKG, or blood work I have to go to the hospital, right?” The answer is actually, “No.” New Bern Family Practice Urgent Care provides excellent laboratory and X-ray services, can run diagnostic tests, and even dispense prescriptions. All the services you may need in a minor emergency are located in one convenient location and provided by a caring and attentive staff. Open every day of the week, urgent care is the smart, cost-saving option for you and your family.
The next time a minor emergency occurs, don’t rush to the ER—make the quick drive to New Bern’s only family practice urgent care facility. You’ll find that you get knowledgeable and compassionate care from a highly-skilled team of physicians and nurses quickly and affordably.
CCHC Urgent Care is located at 1040 Medical Park Ave., New Bern, North Carolina. Call (252) 638-CARE (2273) for more information.
Monday-Friday: 8:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Holidays: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas