School is out and the temperature is rising, which can only mean one thing: Trauma Season. Talk to anyone who works in an Emergency Room (ER) and they will tell you that the summer months can double the number of traumatic injuries they see These months will mean tragedy for many families. Fortunately, you can take steps to protect the ones you love because most of these injuries are preventable.
Here are five summer dangers and some ways to avoid them:
866 children (under age 19) drowned in 2013; almost half of those deaths were children under age four. Another 4,197 minors went to the ER “for injuries from near-drowning” in the same year. While young kids are more likely to suffer from these tragedies in pools, teens and adults are more likely to drown in lakes or oceans, either while swimming or using a watercraft. Another study found that 10 people die from drowning every day. “Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death.” Furthermore, “More than 50% of drowning victims treated in emergency departments require hospitalization or transfer for further care (compared with a hospitalization rate of about 6% for all unintentional injuries).”
The Mayo Clinic offers a thorough list of preventative measures including: fences, alarms, swim lessons, and adult supervision. Other recommendations include: learning CPR, wearing life jackets, and the buddy system.
2. Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor Vehicle Accidents involve more than just cars and trucks. According to Safe Kids, “an average of 340 people per year were killed in crashes involving ATV’s on public roadways” from 2004 through 2013. Injuries are typically due to rollovers if not on a public road, while dirt bike accidents are usually caused by high speeds and jumps. It is recommended that proper helmets are worn to keep riders safe when riding a dirt bike, ATV, or motorcycle.
Car accidents are the number one cause of unintentional deaths for kids under age 19. “Teenagers (15-19) made up 73 percent of motor vehicle… fatalities in 2014. The teen fatality rate is ten times higher than the rates for young children.” Studies have shown that with less time in the classroom teenagers spend 44 percent more time on the road during the summer months. Road construction also factors into car accident rates. “Shut down traffic lanes, detours, [and] temporary signs or signals” can cause confusion and create last minute shifts that cause accidents.
Backing up is another danger when driving. “An estimated 267 deaths and 15,000 injuries per year are caused when a vehicle backs up onto a person.” The most at risk for these accidents are children under age five. It has been estimated that “back up cameras on vehicles may reduce the blind zone by an average of 94 percent.”
Another danger with cars is the risk for heatstroke. This is one of the most tragic of accidents because it is entirely preventable. In 2015, twenty-four kids, ages 5 days old through four years old died after being left in a car. “Within 10 minutes, the inside temperature of a vehicle can be up to 20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature; after 30 minutes the vehicle’s temperature can be up to 34 degrees hotter.” So while I grabbed my dry cleaning on an 88 degree day the car rose to 108 degrees. Furthermore, “A child’s body does not have the same internal temperature control as an adult’s and can warm three times to five times faster. Body temperature may rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit within 10 to 15 minutes.”
Safe Kids offers a great article on how to help your teen stay safe while driving. Beyond that, correctly installed car seats and seat belts can “reduce fatal injury by up to 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers (1 to 4).” Buckle up and watch your road signs. Talk to your teens about safe driving habits and be a good example for them.
3. Lawn Mowers
3,780 kids under age 14 went to the ER for injuries from lawn mowers in 2011 alone. Those accidents are often caused by riding on an adult’s lap or running up to a person operating a lawn mower. They make up a small percentage of people sent to the hospital, but these injuries tend to be gruesome. Nationwide Children’s Hospital recommends never allowing kids to ride on a riding mower. “Extra riders are distracting, block controls and easily fall off. The child can suffer serious injury from the rotating blades of the mower.” They also advise keeping children inside when a mower is being operated as the operator of the mower cannot always keep track of where the kids are playing and projectiles (rocks, sticks, toys) could hit bystanders.
There is a reason most homeowners insurance policies do not cover trampoline accidents—they can be dangerous. One study found that having more than one person on the trampoline multiplies the risk. “Concussions, sprains and occasional broken bones” are all too often the result. Over one thousand trampoline jumpers were sent to the hospital each year from 2002 through 2011.
The American Academy of Pediatrics “suggests trampolines should never be used unless athletes are being supervised in training for a sport like diving or gymnastics.” The Cleveland Clinic recommends the following:
- Only allow one person to jump at a time
- Make sure the springs are covered
- Install a safety net around the perimeter of the trampoline
- Ensure the trampoline is set on level ground
- Avoid somersaults or flips
- Provide adult supervision at all times
Safe Kids reports “More children age 5 to 14 are seen in ER’s for biking related injuries than any other sport.” Arm and wrist injuries are most common among biking injuries, as well as head injuries. The best way to keep kids from serious injuries is to buy a helmet. It is estimated that “Every $12 spent on a bicycle helmet for a child generates $580 in cost-saving benefits to society.” Helmets “reduce the risk of head injury by at least 45 percent, brain injury by 33 percent, facial injury by 27 percent and fatal injury by 29 percent.”
Stay safe this summer!