We all love summer fun but the time between late May and early August is often the most dangerous for kids.
With a little attention to some small details, it can be both a fun and safe, said Dr. James Fortenberry, chief of pediatrics at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
“Like any time of year, there are risks but those risk increase during the summer months when more children are out and about playing in the Georgia heat and moms and dads are taking small children to day care, ” Fortenberry said.
According to Fortenberry, unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14. In summer months, he said, the number of children with traumatic injuries increases significantly.
“What we see in our ICU are trauma and submersion injuries from kids falling into pools or off their bikes or being struck by cars,” Fortenberry said. “The greatest tragedy is infants who die from heat injuries in a hot car. There were 32 death last year in the United States.”
Fortenberry said there are several easy ways for parents to remind themselves that a child is in the car, including putting a toy in the front seat as a visual reminder or sitting a purse or briefcase beside the child in the backseat.
“We all get sidetracked with all the events of the day, it’s a symptom of our hectic lives,” he said. “The other key point is never ever leave your child in a parked car even for a minute. Car temperatures can increase 20 degrees in 10 minutes. And can get as high as 150 degrees. At 107 degrees, cells in the body begin to break down.”
Fortenberry said that CHOA is focusing on five aspects of summer - water, play, sun and skin, heat and fireworks - that are often behind injuries.
In addition, he said the hospital has created a section on its website dedicated to summer safety awareness. Parents can visit www.choa.org/summersafety for more detailed information.
Meanwhile, here are Fortenberry’s best tips to keep your kids healthy and safe this summer:
•Water Safety: drowning takes the lives of nearly 900 kids each year. Practice water safety and supervisory watchfulness including boat, pool, swimming, life jacket use.
•Play Safety: the season for extended daylight and outdoor activity is also the season for broken bones and accidental injuries. Being aware of playground, ATV, helmet, bike and summer equipment safety can prevent injuries.
•Sun and Skin Safety: always use sunscreen to prevent sunburn. Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer that can spread rapidly to different parts of the body, accounts for up to 3 percent of pediatric cancer.
•Heat Safety: each year, young athletes and children die from preventable heat-related illness. To prevent heat illness, keep kids hydrated on and off the field.
•Fireworks Safety: stick to the professional shows and keep kids away from fireworks. Doing so can prevent burns, the most common fireworks injury.