Summer is a time for increased outdoor activity
and travel. Activities such as biking, swimming, boating, and traveling can lead
to an increased risk of injury to children.
"Many of the injuries that occur
to children can be prevented if proper precautions and safety measures are taken,"
says Kathy Adams, R.N., Kentucky SAFE KIDS coordinator and injury prevention specialist
at the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Kentucky.
Each year, among Kentucky children
and adolescents over the age of 1, about two out of three deaths are a result
of injury. Motor vehicle crashes are the number-one cause of death.
Fire, drowning, and head injuries from
bike and all-terrain vehicle use are other major problems. Most of these injuries
can be prevented.
Safety on the road
Road travel during family vacations
and weekend trips can be a great family bonding time, but it can turn tragic
if seat belts and child safety seats are not used properly. Seat belts and child
safety seats do save lives, but only if used at all times-on short trips to
the store as well as on long vacations.
All children under age 12 need to
sit in the back seat. This is critically important if you have a passenger airbag.
Infants under the age of 1, no matter what size or weight, need to be placed
in rear-facing car seats appropriate for their weight.
Toddlers older than 1 but less than
40 pounds need to be in forward-facing car seats. All children 40 to 80 pounds,
or about 4 to 8 years old, need to be sitting in belt-positioning boosters so
the lap and shoulder belt fits properly across their hips rather than across
their waist, chest, neck, or ears.
Safety around water
Hot weather lures everyone to water
sports. Supervision is the key to the prevention of drownings, which can occur
in bathtubs, toilets, buckets of water, backyard pools, or community pools.
"A toddler can drown in less
time than it takes to answer the telephone," Adams says. "They should
not be left unattended near water for any reason."
Also, when around open bodies of
water or when on boats, insist that children wear personal flotation devices.
Safety on wheels
Start your child off right by buying
a helmet and the proper protection gear when you buy the first bike, pair of
skates, or a scooter. Insist that he or she wear the equipment and obey the
rules of the road.
"Something as simple as wearing
a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent," Adams says.
Bicycles are involved in more childhood
injuries than any consumer product other than automobiles, according to the
National SAFE KIDS Campaign.
However, in Kentucky, all-terrain
vehicles kill more children than bicycles. Parents need to remember ATVs are
motorized vehicles, not toys. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends
that no one under the age of 16 drives or rides ATVs.
More than half of ATV deaths in Kentucky
involve double riders, no helmets, and on-road use.