Vigilance, Rules Can Help Keep Summer Injury-Free

Centerville physician encourages adults to establish a designated parent

DAYTON, Ohio (July 2, 2013) – Let’s face it: By the time summer rolls around, most kids can’t wait to be out of school and explore new places to play.

However, careful thought should be given to summer safety with the discovery of new play options. Many small choices that parents and their kids make during the hot, lazy days of summer can have an impact on their lives for years to come. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), even one misguided choice can cause a burn that scars for life or a fall that creates permanent damage.

Melinda Ruff, MD, of Centerville Family Medicine, a Premier HealthNet practice, said to prevent this it is important for parents to take summer safety seriously by establishing rules for outdoor play and, most importantly, making sure their kids are monitored whenever and wherever they venture outside.

“The big thing is being vigilant,” Dr. Ruff said. “The problem with summer is that a lot of us think our kids are playing with other kids and being watched by other parents while they run and play and do their thing. But it’s almost like a designated driver: You need to establish a designated parent.”

Kids tend to experience more injuries during the summer months mostly because they are engaged in outdoor play that involves a high level of activity, Dr. Ruff said. Some injuries may include burns, fractures, sun poisoning and even drowning. Activities such as swimming, biking and skate-boarding coupled with events such as fireworks displays and campfires all pose their own set of risks to children when proper rules and boundaries are not set in place from the outset.

“It’s important for parents to engage their children in conversations that review family rules to remind them that these rules still apply when they go to someone else’s house,” Dr. Ruff said. “So that way the child knows once they get into a situation whether or not they are supposed to participate.”

Dr. Ruff said there are several outdoor activities that parents should be careful to evaluate and about which they should educate their children:

  • Pools – The number one cause of death in children four years of age and younger is drowning, according to the AAP. Parents can reduce this risk by being vigilant with their children when near water regardless of how well their child can swim. Parents are encouraged to be certified in CPR.
  • Trampolines – In 2012, the AAP issued a report that cautioned against any type of home or recreational use of trampolines. Trampolines can cause a wide range of injuries ranging from sprains to concussions. In 2009, there were 98,000 injuries reported from the use of trampolines and 3,100 hospitalizations. About three-fourths of the injuries were sustained when more than one child was jumping on the trampoline at once. The best way to reduce the risk of injury is to not use a trampoline at all, including those that have a safety net, Dr. Ruff said.
  • Bicycles – Children should be taught how to use proper hand signals when riding a bike, and most importantly should always ride with a helmet. The use of a bicycle helmet can greatly reduce the risk of head trauma from a fall, the AAP said.
  • Sun – The first and best line of defense against harmful ultraviolet radiation exposure is covering up, according to the AAP. Children can wear a hat, sunglasses and cotton clothing to cover sensitive areas. They also should stay out of the sun during its peak hours, which are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunscreen with an SPF 15 or above should be applied before going outside and reapplied every two hours after swimming or sweating.

Summer can be the carefree time it was meant to be as long as parents play their part in keeping their kids safe.

View frequently asked questions about pediatric health.


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