Top five summer injuries: Don’t let your kids wind up in the emergency department this summer

Summer is the most dangerous time of year for children, which is why it’s also known as “trauma season.” These are the top five injuries that land kids in Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s Emergency Department every summer and how to avoid them. Keep your kids happy, healthy and out of the Emergency Department this summer!

1. Falls
Did you know that falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury for children?
To prevent falls at home:

  • Always strap children into high chairs, swings and strollers.
  • Remember that children can fall from windows opened as little as five inches.
  • Never rely on window screens to prevent falls.
  • Never let children play alone on fire escapes, high porches or balconies.
  • Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
  • Keep hallways and stairs well lit and clear of clutter.
  • Make sure there is a safe surface under playground equipment. Safe surfaces include mulch, pea gravel and shredded rubber at least nine to 12 inches deep and extending at least six feet in all directions around equipment.

2. Poisonings/Ingestions

  • Teach your child to recognize and avoid poisonous plants like poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac, which can cause an allergic reaction if they come in contact with the skin.
  • Teach your child not to eat or touch any plants or flowers without asking you first. Many plants such as wild mushrooms and berries might look edible, yet they are poisonous. Even pretty flowers in the garden like azaleas, daffodils and rhododendron are toxic.
  • In the garage, store dangerous chemicals like pesticides, gasoline, lighter fluid and  cleaners out of your child’s reach in a locked cabinet or garden shed.
  • Keep chemicals in their original containers and add a Mr. Yuk™ sticker so your child knows the product is poisonous.
  • If using pesticides, keep kids and pets away from the area until the pesticide has dried, or as long as recommended on the label.

3. Motor Vehicle Crashes
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 17 and younger.

  • Make sure your child has his or her own car seat or safety belt that is appropriate for his or her age and size.
  • Never let children 12 and younger sit in the front seat, and never put a child car seat in the front seat.
  • Install child safety seats according to the manufacturer’s instructions and have it checked by a certified child passenger safety technician.
  • Obey Wisconsin law: if your child is younger than 4, they must be in a child car seat. Children ages 4 to 8 need to be in a booster seat.
  • As a driver, stay aware and watch for children playing outside.

4. Burns

  • Teach your kids the dangers of the fire pit before going outside.
  • Never leave the fire unattended, or kids alone by a fire – not even for a minute.
  • Fire pits and grills can stay hot enough to cause burns for up to 24 hours.
  • Encourage children to wear shoes in the summer and avoid walking on hot asphalt or hot sand.
  • Make sure your child uses a sunblock whenever he or she is in the sun. Children need to wear a sunblock with an SPF of at least 15.
  • When working with a hot liquid, keep your child safely away.

5. Bike

  • Make sure your child always wears a helmet.
  • Make sure the helmet fits properly. If the helmet is too loose, it is not protecting your child’s head.
  • Teach your kids the rules of the road and make sure they obey all traffic laws.
  • Most fatal accidents occur at dusk and at night. Children should not ride a bike at dusk or at night. If a child is still outside when it turns dark, the bicycle light must be turned on and the child should be wearing light-colored clothing. Teach children to look left, right and left again before riding into traffic from a sidewalk, driveway or parking lot.
  • Be a role model; always wear a helmet when you ride a bike.

Follow these tips and you and your family can have a safe, relaxing and fun summer out in the sun, not in the ED.


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