Keeping Kids Safe During the Summertime
Kids love summer because it means warm weather and extra time for swimming, cycling, skateboarding and participating in other outdoor activities. But for emergency personnel, summer is also known as “trauma season” because it is the time of year when additional deaths and serious injuries to children increase dramatically.
The Safe Kids Denver Metro coalition, led by Children's Hospital Colorado, works year-around to prevent accidental childhood injury, which the leading killer of children 14 years and under. Its members include individuals from over 50 health and safety agencies and organizations throughout the Denver metropolitan area. This month, the coalition and its member agencies will be conducting safety fairs and community events across the Denver metropolitan area to teach parents and caregivers about summer safety. Other coalitions across Colorado will be hosting events as well.
Colorado ranks 7th in children’s accidental injury deaths in summer
According to The Safe Kids U.S. Summer Safety Ranking Report, a study released by Safe Kids Worldwide, Colorado ranks 7th out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia in the ranking according to children’s accidental injury deaths in summer – a deadly time of year for children.
According to the study results, in Colorado, between 2000 and 2004, 3.23 children per 100,000 died from accidental injury during the summer months and saw a 31.4% reduction in the summer rate over a five-year period.
“We’re encouraged that Colorado ranks below the national average on its children’s accidental injury deaths during the summer, but every child killed by a preventable injury is one too many,” said the coordinator of Safe Kids Denver Metro and Injury Prevention & Education Coordinator at Children's Hospital Colorado. “We don’t want parents, caregivers or policymakers to become complacent.”
The five highest-ranking states were all found in the northeast – Vermont (#1), New Jersey (#2), the District of Columbia (#3), New York (#4) and Delaware (#5). The five lowest-ranking states were Wyoming (#51), Alaska (#50), South Dakota (#49), West Virginia (#48) and Nebraska (#47).
The report shows that, across the United States, an average of 17 children a day, or 2,143 children in total, died from May to August in 2004 due to injuries, many of which could have been prevented. Also in 2004, 2.4 million children made emergency room visits due to accidental injuries, many of which resulted in paralysis, brain damage and other serious disabilities.
Causes of accidental injury deaths
Previous Safe Kids Worldwide research indicates that five of the most common causes of children’s accidental injury deaths in summer are:
- Drowning (increases 89% in the summer over the annual monthly average)
- Biking (increases 45%)
- Falls (increases 21%)
- Motor vehicle passenger injuries (increases 20%)
- Pedestrian injuries (increases 16%).
“The results should be a wake-up call to the states and the nation,” said Martin Eichelberger, M.D., chairman of Safe Kids Worldwide and director, Emergency and Burn Services at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. “When a child dies every few hours from an accidental summer injury, many of which can be prevented, we have our work cut out for us.”
Ways to reduce injury during the summer
Safe Kids Denver Metro recommends the following steps to reduce accidental injury and death to children during the summer months:
- Actively supervise your child when engaging in summertime activities, such as swimming and playing on playgrounds;
- Install four-sided fencing, at least four feet high, around home pools or spa;
- Use the appropriate safety gear for your child’s activities (a properly fit helmet for wheeled sports, car seat or booster seat as appropriate, U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket for open-water swimming and boating, or when participating in water sports, etc.);
- Walk all the way around a parked vehicle to check for children before entering a car and starting the motor.
- Keep chairs, cribs, and other furniture away from windows and install window fall prevention devices such as window guards, on each window above the first floor to reduce the risk of falls; and
- Teach children proper pedestrian behaviors, such as crossing the street at a corner, using traffic signals or crosswalks whenever possible
For more information
Additional tip sheets on making it a “Safe Kids Summer” are available online. They are also available in Spanish.
For more information, visit www.usa.safekids.org.