Don't Let Accidents Rise with the Temperature
Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Offers Summer Safety Tips
Summer weather has arrived in South Florida, and along with hot temperatures, humidity, and weeks of vacation, come a number of hazards that adults need to be aware of.
Throughout the summer, the Emergency Department at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood sees a rise in childhood swimming pool accidents, bicycle accidents and children suffering after being left in hot cars.
Pool Safety Considerations
- If you have a pool or spa, it should be surrounded on all four sides by a fence at least 4 feet high with self-closing and self-latching gates.
- Teach children about the dangers of swimming around drains. Children should not swim or play near any drain or suction outlet. Make sure all pools and spas have compliant anti-entrapment drain covers and backup devices.
- Don't leave toys in or near the pool, where they could attract children. For extra protection, consider a pool alarm and alarms on the doors, windows and gates leading to the pool.
- Don't rely on inflatable swimming toys (for example, water wings and noodles). These toys should never be used in place of U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
- Keep rescue equipment, a phone and emergency numbers nearby in case there is an emergency.
- Learn infant and child CPR. Contact Memorial Healthcare System at 954-265-0994 for information about local CPR classes.
The most important rule is constant supervision. "Children can get into trouble in a matter of seconds. Whether near the pool, at the beach or in front of their own home, parents need to actively supervise their kids," says Peter Antevy, MD, an emergency medicine physician on the medical staff at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. "We even recommend a second adult as an additional layer of protection when children are in or near the water."
Florida Department of Children and Families statistics show the state has the nation's highest incidence of drowning deaths among children younger than age 5 – about 75 each year. Parents are encouraged to learn water safety skills and CPR and have barriers and anti-entrapment devices in use around pools and spas.
As summer begins, it's always a good idea to make sure bicycle tires are properly inflated and that brakes are fully operational. Dr. Antevy stresses the importance of wearing a bike helmet.
"Adults and children need to wear their helmets every time they ride their bikes – no matter how long or short the distance traveled," says Dr. Antevy.
According to Safe Kids USA®, approximately 99 children are killed and 254,000 children are injured on bicycles each year. "A bike helmet is essential safety gear," says Jennifer Belyeu, Injury Prevention Specialist and Safe Kids Broward Coordinator for Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital.
Since 1997, Florida state laws have required all cyclists under age 16 to wear a bicycle helmet that is properly fitted and securely fastened.
When choosing a helmet, the label should indicate that it meets standards set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. "As long as it's certified, let kids pick out their helmets," Dr. Antevy says. "If they think a helmet looks cool, they'll be more likely to wear it when you're not around." Before purchasing a helmet, visit SafeKids.org for instructions to perform the "Eyes, Ears and Mouth" test for a perfect fit.
Make sure the bicycle is the right size for the child. There should be about a one-inch clearance between the bike frame and the child's groin when the child's feet are flat on the ground. Also, make sure the bike is in good repair – reflectors are secure, brakes work properly, gears shift smoothly, and tires are tightly secured and properly inflated.
Model and teach proper bicycling behavior. Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against it. Stay as far to the right as possible. "Teach kids to obey traffic signs and the rules of the road. Kids should not ride without supervision until they have demonstrated that they always follow the rules," says Belyeu.
Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car
In 2010, 49 children across the U.S. died from heat stroke while left unattended in cars; the worst year on record. Child deaths from heat stroke have occurred as early as February and with an outside temperature as low as 57 degrees.
Caregivers can create such reminders as placing a cell phone, purse, or something that is needed at the next stop on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. Dial 911 if you see an unattended child in a car. Children are much more vulnerable to heat stroke than adults.