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Posted: August 4, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Cutting down on children’s summer accidents

Summer can be rough on a kid, as most parents know. Children and adolescents fall, crash their bicycles, burn themselves, almost drown and are in car crashes. Falls lead this list of the most common reasons children are admitted to hospitals during summer months.

"These types of incidents are both predictable and preventable," states Dr. Kathy Nuss, associate medical director of trauma services at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Nuss and colleagues point out that parents recognize the dangers of some activities, such as trampolines, but children frequently are injured in situations considered to be safe by the parents.

Dr. Nuss recommends playgrounds that are spread with mulch or shredded tire because these provide more cushioning than concrete or blacktop. "We see a lot of kids falling from playground equipment during the summer months."

Because close to 400,000 children a year are seen in hospitals in the U.S. for bicycle related accidents, Dr Nuss states that children should always wear helmets. Head injuries are common in bicycle accidents, but injuries to arms and legs are most common. In addition to a good helmet, children should use hand signals when they ride and walk their bikes across intersections. Their parents need to make sure that the bike remains in sound mechanical condition and that the seat and handlebars fit the size of the child.

When it comes to burns, young children tend to get scald burns from things like hot water, or pulling hot food off of a counter. Older children are more prone to sustain flash burns from things like campfires or fireworks. To avoid these types of injuries, Dr. Nuss not surprisingly advises to keep hot foods and beverages from the edges of tables and countertops. Children should be closely supervised when around a campfire or using fireworks.

Very close supervision is the recommendation regarding motorized vehicles. Golf carts, cars, ATVs and lawn mowers attract children and pose high dangers to them without direct adult involvement. Close supervision in swimming pools, called "touch supervision," is to remain close enough to a child to be able to reach out and grab them immediately. This would help prevent drownings and near-drowning that happen in backyards and landscape ponds that are sometimes only a few inches deep. Additionally, children should wear flotation devices and parents should be certified in CPR.

"While it may be difficult to avoid these common summer injuries, it’s important for parents to keep a close eye on their kids this summer," Nuss said.

C. Kirven Weekley, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist with offices in Covington and Norcross. He specializes in the evaluation and treatment of adults for depression, anxiety, relationship problems and medical issues. He can be reached at (770) 441-9244.

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