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June 19, 2012
Keep Kids Safe from Nations Leading Killer This Summer
Loyola University Health System Pediatrician Gives Summer Safety Tips
MAYWOOD, Ill. – Unintentional injuries are the No. 1 cause of death in children in the United States. In fact, 2,000 children die each day worldwide from preventable injuries. With the summer months come an increased number of injuries.
“Kids are outside more, out of school and less supervised. This leads to an increased risk of injuries, anywhere from drowning to head injuries to skin infections from bug bites or poison ivy,” said Dr. Greg Ozark, associate professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
According to Ozark, adult supervision is the best preventive measure and it’s about more than just keeping an eye on your kids. Parents need to set safety rules for their kids and follow them as well.
“Many of us didn’t grow up wearing helmets while we biked and it might seem strange at first. I tell my patients I don’t want them to wear a helmet because I doubt their ability to steer a bike. You wear a helmet to protect yourself from the person who isn’t paying attention,” Ozark said. “Your children are watching you. They are more likely to do what they see you doing than to do what they hear you saying."
Serious injuries and even death can happen quickly. Most drownings happen when a child has been out of a parent’s sight for less than 5 minutes. To help limit injuries, Ozark shares a few tips to keep your kids safe while enjoying some summer activities.
- Make sure an adult is watching children around all water areas including pools, lakes and piers for children of all ages and bathtubs for infants and toddlers.
- Swimming lessons for children younger than age 5 are not effective. But, all children ages 5 and older should have swim lessons. You are never too old to learn how to swim. Kids and teens are safer around water if they know the basics of swimming.
- Young children should be within arm’s reach of an adult at all times.
- Home pools must have a 4-foot fence around the entire pool with a self-locking gate
- Everyone, including teens and adults, should wear lifejackets while boating.
- Make sure you have safety rules about docks and piers. Children should wear lifejackets on docks and piers even when not getting in the water.
Wheeled activities, such as bicycle riding:
- Make sure your child is wearing a helmet that is approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or meets the Snell helmet safety standards. This will ensure it is crash-resistant.
- Purchase a helmet at a bicycle shop and have it fitted to your child’s head. It must fit snugly, go over the forehead and cover the back of the head.
- If a helmet is dented or cracked, get a new one.
- Make sure your child is wearing additional protective gear for the activity, such as knee and elbow pads and wrist guards for skateboarding.
- Remind them to be extra careful around driveways. Achild must be older than 10 to ride in the street.
- Always know where your children are going and make sure they are not too far from home.
- Make sure your child is supervised while on the playground.
- Undersurfaces should be made of an absorbent material, like wood chips and sand, not grass or cement.
- If there is broken equipment, don’t let your child play on it. Report it immediately.
- Home swing sets can be especially dangerous. Make sure there are no strangulation hazards.
- Playground equipment should be no higher than 5 to 6 feet off the ground.
“Be wary, supervise and think about what are potential consequences that could occur by your child’s activity,” Ozark said. “Whether they are toddlers or teens, there is no age that doesn’t need to be supervised.”
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Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.