Summer is a fun time for kids and families, and everyone spends more time outdoors in warm weather. While it is important to encourage healthy physical activity such as bike riding and other exercise, parents need to know how to keep their children safe. Also, common activities around the house, like mowing the lawn and barbecuing, may lead to serious injury that is avoidable if a few simple tips are followed.
Helmets: Many websites can show you the basics of fitting helmets for biking and other activities. The important thing to know is that kids copy their parents, so parents must wear their helmets too. Trampolines: Injuries like broken bones, concussions, and sprains are common. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that trampolines never be used at home, in routine gym classes, or on playgrounds. Drowning is the leading cause of death from injury for children 1 to 4 years old. Everyone should know the basics of floating and moving in the water. Formal swimming lessons have been shown to decrease the risk of drowning. Children should always be closely supervised, even if they know how to swim. Pools should be fenced on all 4 sides. Use life jackets around natural bodies of water like lakes or oceans. Small bodies of water, like fish ponds or fountains and even buckets, can attract children. Toddlers may fall forward into them and drown.
Burns: Summer brings the risk of burns from outdoor grills or campfires. Plan your grilling area so that no one is likely to run or play near the grill, and consider putting a barrier around it. Campfire ashes can stay hot even after the fire is out. Falls out of windows: Open windows ventilate the house but also attract kids to look out and feel the breeze. Screens keep bugs out but can be easily dislodged. Consider window guards or wedges to limit the window opening. Make sure they can be removed for an emergency like a fire. Lawn mower injuries: Children should never play near a lawn mower while it is in use. They can be injured by the blades if they get too close, and items caught under a lawn mower can be flung out, becoming dangerous projectiles. Children should not be in the yard while it is being mowed and should never ride along on a riding mower.
Injuries are the leading cause of death in children. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 child dies every hour from an injury, and every 4 seconds a child is treated for an injury in the emergency department. For every child who dies, 25 are hospitalized and 925 need to be seen in the emergency department.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov/safechild
American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children www.healthychildren.org/english/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/default.aspx
To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page index on JAMA 's website at www.jama.com. Many are available in English and Spanish. A Patient Page on water safety was published in the June 16, 1999, issue; one on vehicle safety and children in the March 6, 2002, issue; one on baseball safety for children in the February 5, 2003, issue; one on head injury in the September 28, 2005, issue; and one on burn injuries in the October 28, 2009, issue.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics
The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA. The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests that you consult your physician. This page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share with patients. To purchase bulk reprints, call 312/464-0776.
Topic: CHILD SAFETY
Goodman DM, Lynm C, Livingston EH. Summer Safety for Kids. JAMA. 2013;309(23):2505. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.5165