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Ladders, Swings and More Can Cause Peril

Simple precautions are urged to prevent head, neck injuries

SUNDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- A few simple precautions can help prevent head and neck injuries related to recreational or work activities outdoors, health experts say.

Each year in the United States, about 1.5 million people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for head injuries, and nearly 12,000 are treated for neck fractures, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Though sports and recreational activities cause many of these injuries, there's also danger from common and seemingly harmless products in and around the house and yard, including lawn mowers, sprinklers, ladders, playground equipment, garden hoses and sprinklers and garden decorations, says the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

When sports were excluded, the top 10 outdoor-related causes of head injury in 2007 were:

  • Ladders, all types: 17,124 injuries
  • Porches, balconies, open-sided floors: 16,124
  • Swings and swing sets: 10,727
  • Fences, fence posts: 10,152
  • Workshops (including power and hand tools and supplies): 9,666
  • Monkey bars and other playground climbing equipment: 7,630
  • Trampolines: 7,075
  • Slides, sliding boards, seesaws and teeterboards: 6,565
  • Other playground equipment: 5,017
  • Garage doors: 2,236

The association says that a few simple safety precautions can prevent most of these types of injuries. It suggests that people:

  • Remove debris form walkways, driveways, porches and yards.
  • Remove debris from lawns before mowing or gardening.
  • Store outdoor equipment and tools properly.
  • Make sure that ladders are stable and secure before using them.
  • Do not use broken equipment or tools.
  • Install outdoor handrails, especially if the household includes elderly or frail people.
  • Keep children off playgrounds with hard surfaces.
  • Don't let children engage in activities inappropriate for their age.
  • Supervise younger children at all times.
  • Don't dive in above-ground pools or into water less than 12 feet deep.
  • Wear helmets for all wheeled sports and when using powered recreational vehicles.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about head injuries.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Association of Neurological Surgeons, news release, April 2009

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