by Johanna Hicks
Ten Summer Child Safety Tips
You probably knew it was coming – the release of summer safety tips for children! June, July, and August are more dangerous for children than other months. Nearly one-third of all fatal child injuries occur during these three months according to Trend Lines, Natalie Pane, Senior Vice president for Research and Operations.
Deaths resulting from contact with bees, hornets, and wasps (1 fatality in 201,) the most recent year available), powered lawnmowers (1), or dogs (10) are so few they barely register statistically. Deaths caused by falling down stairs (5) and being struck by lightning (3) are similarly unlikely. By contrast, teen driving crashes (2,460), suffocation (e.g., infants in bed – 2,429), youth suicides (2,261), homicides (2.267), drug-induced deaths (791), pedestrian injuries (685), and toddler drowning (388), accounted for over 11,000 fatalities in 2014.
Given what we know are the most common fatal injuries, here are some tips for keeping the summer safe:
– Summer cruising: take frequent summer drives with your teen driver. Car crashes usually are a top concern, but the real culprit is teen drivers, both for the driver and their passengers. Nearly one in three of all fatal injuries of children in the United States are from motor vehicle crashes, and most involve a teen behind the wheel. After studying teen crashes, the CDC concluded that the main cause of teen crashes is driver inexperience. Most crashes happen during the first year the teen has a license.
– Even on hot summer nights, put the baby back in the crib. Suffocation accounts for 3% of accidental injury deaths, and this doesn’t include Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which would about double the number. Most of these death occur in the first year of life. Babies left to sleep in beds can wedge themselves between the mattress and the wall and suffocate because they aren’t yet able to move their heads.
– Store guns out of the home, and lock up prescription medications. Based on what we know about the strengths and challenges of the adolescent brain, it shouldn’t surprise us that their occasionally poor decision-making can have irreversible consequences when mixed with deadly means.
– When accidents happen, ask the doctor to NOT prescribe opioid pain medication. Accidental poisoning fatalities are not as much a toddler getting into the medicine cabinet, but a teen overdosing on opioids (oxycodone, for example). An estimated 20% of adolescents with prescribed opioid medications reported using them intentionally to get high, or to increase the effects of alcohol. Use of prescribed opioid pain medication before high school graduation is associated with a 33% increase in the risk of later opioid misuse.
– Stop using your smartphone when crossing the street, as well as in the car. Fatal pedestrian injuries don’t seem to get much attention, but they account for about 2% of child deaths. While you’re looking around, notice that people haven’t gotten the message about phone use while driving. And please be careful when walking or driving around the Sulphur Springs square. Lots of folks enjoy the water feature, market on the square, shops, and other attractions, so there are many pedestrians!
– Be vigilant about access to your pool, because toddlers who drown were often last seen in the house. Drowning is a leading cause of death for toddlers. In 2014, among children 1 to 4 years old who died from unintentional injuries, one-third died from drowning. Most of these deaths occurred in home swimming pools. More than two-thirds of those toddlers were note expected to be in or around the pool.
– Be mindful about modifying sleep schedules. Regular sleep patterns and adequate sleep don’t change during the summer. Sleep is critical for so many functions, from cognitive performance to basic safety. School-aged children
need between 10 and 11 hours of sleep per night, and teens need about 8 to 9 hours.
– Try new ways to eat better, cook together, and start a new activity routine. The summer is a great time to get better at planning ahead! Go to the farmer’s market on Saturday, and come home to cook a few meals for the week. Or cut up all those veggies and have them available in the refrigerator for a quick snack.
– Schedule annually recurring reminders to make doctor and dentist appointments. (Thanks to my doctor and dentist for sending reminder cards in the mail!!) The U.S. Office of Adolescent Health advises that even though teens are generally healthy, regular visits allow health care providers to screen for healthy development, provide shots/screenings, and brief interventions.
– Set aside time to express gratitude and/or volunteer together. Research suggests that volunteering may have health benefits for the entire family. While you are out together, you will also be keeping the conversations going. Believe me, kids grow up faster that we expect, and those precious times together should be cherished!
Make the most of the best and the least of the worst – Ethel Sexton