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Summer Fun Need Not Be Hazardous

Parents can do a lot to keep kids safe, experts say,,

SUNDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) With school out (or about to be), youngsters are probably going to be spending less time sitting at a desk and more time running, jumping and doing cannonballs.

It's all fun and games -- until someone gets hurt, which lots of kids do come the warmer months, warn child safety experts.

Though many injuries amount to little more than bumps, bruises and scrapes, other incidents result in broken bones that can have a child inside playing video games for most of the summer rather than being at the pool or the playground.

And some childhood mishaps can be serious, resulting in long-term impairments such as traumatic brain injury or even death.

According to a 2007 study by Safe Kids USA, 42 percent of all unintentional injury-related deaths among children occurred during the summer months. Deaths among children ages 10 to14 increased 45 percent during the summer months.

For children, the five most common causes of death from accidental injury are drowning, bicycle riding mishaps, falls, motor vehicle passenger injuries and pedestrian injuries.

So how can children be protected?

Parental supervision is key, said Beth Wildman, a psychology professor at Kent State University.

Just telling children to wear a helmet when riding a bike, not to run on the pool deck and to stop jumping on the bed isn't enough.

Even kids who say they understand the rules and can repeat them back might not actually grasp the reason for the rules and thus stop following them as soon as their parent's back is turned.

But parents are the safety net, she said, and their involvement effectively decreases injury risk.

Safe Kids USA suggests several ways to keep children safe:

  • To prevent falls, keep chairs, cribs and other furniture away from windows and install window guards on all windows above the first floor. Don't allow youngsters to play on balconies or roofs or near open windows that don't have some sort of barrier.
  • Actively supervise children when they play on a playground and make sure they use age-appropriate equipment.
  • Look for playgrounds where the surfaces are covered at least 12 inches deep with shredded rubber, hardwood fiber mulch or fine sand, extending at least six feet in all directions around the equipment.
  • Make sure kids wear the right protective gear, such as bike helmets, when practicing and playing sports. And make sure the gear fits properly.
  • Supervise children at all times when they're around a pool, lake or other body of water, including the bathtub. Never leave children unattended around any water for even a moment.

More information:

The National Injury Prevention Foundation has a Web page for kids on safe fun.

-- Jennifer Thomas

SOURCE: Kent State University College of Public Health, news release, May 18, 2009

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