Protecting Kids Year-Round; Why Spring Sports Safety is a Must!

Safe Kids Colorado offers safety tips to protect all athletes this spring

As winter turns into spring and temperatures increase, so does the amount of time that children spend outdoors playing spring sports. This means that the number of injuries to children can also increase. Each year, more than 38 million children participate in sports in the United States and more than 3.5 million children ages 14 and under are treated for sports injuries. Experts say as many as half the injuries sustained by youth while playing sports are preventable.

Safe Kids Colorado is part of a national education campaign sponsored by Safe Kids USA and supported by Johnson & Johnson. The campaign is focusing on four areas which are critical to keeping young athletes healthy and safe: acute and overuse injury prevention; proper hydration before, during and after play; annual pre-participation physical prior to play, and concussion awareness, prevention, and screening methods.

"Children ages 5 to 14 account for nearly 40 percent of all sports-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms," said Mae Hsu, Safe Kids Colorado Manager at Children's Hospital Colorado. "Our goal is to reach coaches and parents and equip them with the critical information and resources to keep kids out of the emergency room."

"Concussions pose particular risks to children and young adults, whose brains are still developing and may take longer to recover after an injury," said Dr. Joe Grubenhoff, emergency medicine physician with Children's Concussion Program. "Most concussions heal within a couple of weeks, but every concussion is serious. A young athlete needs plenty of time - and proper medical management - to give the brain an opportunity to mend."

Here are five important sports safety tips from Safe Kids Colorado and Children's Hospital Colorado for coaches, parents, and league organizers to use to prevent sports-related injuries:

  • Pre-season medical screening: These exams can detect any underlying conditions the young athlete may have and therefore prevent a potential medical emergency.
  • Safety gear: To prevent injuries, children playing sports should have access to and consistently use well-maintained safety equipment during both practices and games.
  • Qualified coaching: Athletic coaches should be trained in both first aid and CPR, have a plan for responding to emergencies and have current knowledge of proper hydration methods (and establishing mandatory breaks) and concussion prevention, recognition and response. Coaches should also establish safety guidelines that athletes, parents and coaches will follow.
  • Proper conditioning: To prevent acute and overuse injuries, coaches should teach young athletes proper routines for both warm-ups and cool-downs before and after practice and play. This can help prevent sports-related injuries (such as muscle tears or sprains) by stretching and releasing any muscle tension.
  • Hydration: Athletes should be encouraged to drink fluids (water or sports drink) 30 minutes before the activity begins and every 15-20 minutes during activity. Coaches should establish mandatory water breaks during practice and games-don't wait for the child to tell you he/she is thirsty.
  • Rest: If young athletes are very tired or in pain, coaches and parents should encourage them to rest as this valuable recovery time can help prevent overuse injuries.
  • Attend a sports safety clinic: Safe Kids Denver Metro is hosting sports safety events for coaches and parents on:
    • Sunday, April 17, 2011; 1:00 PM - 1:40 PM, Infinity Park in Glendale
    • Saturday, May 7, 2011; 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM, Ray Ross Park in Lakewood
    • Contact Erin Baum at 720-777-4807 for more information.

Read more information about sports injury prevention

About Safe Kids Colorado

Safe Kids Colorado works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14. Safe Kids Colorado is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury. Safe Kids Colorado was established in 2009 and is led by Children's Hospital Colorado. Its members include Safe Kids coalitions and chapters in the Denver Metro area, Larimer County, Colorado Springs, Southeastern Colorado and the Central Mountains. For Safe Kids Denver Metro, led by Children's Hospital Colorado, call 720-777-4807.