Warmer weather means it’s time for outdoor fun, but for CHOP’s ER physicians and safety experts, spring is considered trauma season.
“Pediatric admissions to the ER can increase by 10 percent with every 9 degree rise in the temperature,” says Gina P. Duchossois, MS, injury prevention supervisor with the Kohl’s Injury Prevention Program at CHOP.
Parents are usually more aware of the well-publicized dangers than they are about the unanticipated ones tied to kids’ typical behaviors. Here are a few of the safety checks that may not be on your list this season — but ought to be.
Crossing the street
You probably know your child can’t cross the street by herself until she’s at least 10 years old, and that jay walking is a big no no. But did you know that kids tend to assume that drivers always see them crossing if they’re at a corner, a pedestrian walk, or at a traffic light? “It’s important to teach your child how to make eye contact with the driver before she crosses at pedestrian crosswalks or at traffic lights. That’s where a lot of serious injuries happen,” says Duchossois.
You may know the importance of a proper fit for your child’s bike helmet. But when was the last time you checked the brakes on your child’s bike? He probably won’t notice or report that his brakes aren’t giving him the same control the way he’d tell you about flat tires. It’s time for a tune-up if you can squeeze the brake lever so that it touches the handlebars. This signals either a loose brake or worn-out brake pads.
And warn your child not to borrow anyone else’s bike. It may have unfamiliar brakes or be too big, preventing his feet from being flat when they touch the ground. “Many bike accidents happen when the bike itself isn’t the right size or isn’t working properly,” says Duchossois.
It’s well known that trampolines can be dangerous. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia supports the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation against recreational trampoline use. But if you choose to have one in your yard, take extra safety precautions.
Most adults are aware of the need to supervise a trampoline so that kids go on one at a time and no one tries a back flip into the pool. But did you know that when you’re not there, you need to take down the ladder they climb to get onto the trampoline? (Better yet — don’t purchase the ladder in the first place.) “Neighborhood kids have been known to wander over and use trampolines unattended — and that’s often when children get hurt. If you prevent access to little ones, you diminish risk,” she says.
You may know to visit playgrounds with impact-absorbing surfaces, like mulch and shredded rubber. But did you know that you should check your child’s outfit before she takes off for the monkey bars or slide? “Clothing and accessories have been known to pose a strangulation hazard at the playground,” says Duchossois. Make sure your child avoids wearing anything that dangles, such as a necklace, purse, scarf, bike helmet or clothing with drawstrings.
You probably know to keep the garage door locked, to prevent curious kids from trying out tools and getting into toxins. But do you always remember to keep your car door locked when it’s parked in the driveway? “Little ones have been known to wander into parked cars, and then they don’t know how to get out. The car can heat up quickly and fatally in the warm weather,” says Duchossois.
For more safety tips, check out the Kohl’s Injury Prevention Program at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.