Summer Safety Tips
Summer is a fun and active season for many families. But these activities also mean increased injuries. Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death in childhood – more than all disease-related deaths combined. Here’s how you can help keep your whole family safe this season.
Head injuries are the most common cause of disabling injuries in the United States. They can result from a variety of different causes, including motor vehicle accidents, falls and sports. Make sure your children are protected from head injuries this summer.
- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in childhood.
- Never allow children to ride in the cargo area of pickup trucks or vans.
- Adults, teens, and childrens should always wear a seatbelt.
- Children age 12 and under should always ride in the back seat and be properly restrained.
- Children should always ride in the appropriate safety seat for their age,height, and weight (review guidelines in your seat’s instruction manual). Our Safety Stop team is available to answer your general car seat questions and help you correctly use your child’s car seat. Make a free appointment at any of our Safety Stop locations by calling 314.565.0369.*
*Inpatients of St. Louis Children’s Hospital: Please call 314.213.0062.
- Make sure your children wear helmets every time they ride and that the helmets fit snugly and cover the forehead. Follow our step-by-step instructions on how to fit a bike helmet to make sure your child’s helmet is properly fitted. Or, book an appointment with our Safety Stop team and we’ll teach you how to make sure your child’s helmet fits.
- If you ride in the street, obey all traffic signs (stop signs, merge signs and traffic lights).
- When riding at night, wear reflective clothing and use a bike light.
- Make sure your child’s bike is the right size.
Skateboards and roller blades
- Safe riders wear helmets, wrist guards, and elbow and knee pads.
- Long-sleeve shirts and pants provide extra protection.
- Make sure that your children roller blade or skateboard on designated paths or trails, never on public streets or sidewalks.
- Always supervise young children using playground equipment.
- Safe playgrounds have shock absorbing material (rubber, gravel or wood chips) around the equipment.
- All playground equipment should be at least six feet from fences and walks and be firmly anchored and well-maintained.
- Children playing on equipment should not wear drawstrings, necklaces or loose-fitting clothing because these items can get caught in equipment and become a strangulation hazard.
- Trampolines for recreational use can be very dangerous and are not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Children 2 years and younger are at greatest risk for burn injuries. A child can sustain a serious burn in three seconds in water that is 104 degrees F. Because children have thinner skin, they can be severely burned at lower temperatures than adults.
- Have a smoke detector on every level of your home. Put them in open areas, not in corners.
- If you smoke, use a child-proof cigarette lighter.
- Teach your children what to do in the event of a fire – such as test a closed door with back of their hand and do not open a door if they feel heat or see smoke. If their clothes catch on fire, teach them to stop, drop and roll.
- Have a fire escape plan and practice it.
- Keep children away from hot outdoor grills.
- Do not use flammable liquids – like lighter fluid, gasoline or kerosene – on fires.
- Never leave children alone near a campfire.
- Home fireworks are not recommended. It’s preferable to take children to professionally run firework displays.
Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related deaths in children age 14 and under. Most drownings for children 4 and under happen in a home swimming pool. Children can drown in less than one inch of water.
- Obey public pool posted restrictions, such as those restricting running, diving and horseplay.
- If you own a pool, a fence is the most effective, proven way to prevent drowning of young children. The fence must be at least 4 feet high and completely surround the pool, separating it from the house and rest of yard. Be sure the fence has a locking gate with a latch out of a child’s reach to prevent unsupervised use.
- Never allow diving from the side of the pool.
- Keep your cell phone nearby at the pool to avoid leaving children unattended to answer the phone or to call 911 in case of an emergency.
- Keep toys, especially wheeled toys, away from the pool area to prevent falls into the water.
- Remember that swimming lessons do not make children drown-proof. Children should always be supervised by an adult.
- Everyone should know CPR! We offer Family and Friends® CPR classes for individuals, families, and groups, including children ages 10-15 if accompanied by an adult. Check out our list of classes. Request this class for your group or organization.
- Never leave children unattended in any body of water, including hot tubs, swimming pools and lakes.
- Assign a “water watcher” who is responsible, alert and not under the influence of alcohol or any drugs. This person’s job is to pay constant attention to children playing in and around water.
- Make sure the hot tub has a locking top to protect against unsupervised use.
General outdoor safety
It is important to remember that while accidents can be avoided, there are many other summertime hazards, including dehydration, sunburn, bites and stings and pesticide poisoning.
- Make sure your child drinks plenty of non-caffeinated liquids.
- Reapply sunscreen often when children are playing in the sun and water; sunscreen should be a minimum of SPF 30 and be labeled “broad-spectrum” meaning it provides ultra-violet A and B protection.
- Limit the time children play in the sun, especially near the water.
- Be aware that drinking sweetened drinks attracts bees and wasps. Cover open cans.
- Keep children (and pets) indoors when lawn chemicals are being applied.
Develop a plan for emergency situations
- Keep emergency numbers saved in your cell phone and posted next to each phone in your house such as: 911, poison control, and your child’s pediatrician’s office and exchange.
- In case of a medical emergency with a child, determine where the nearest accredited, Level I pediatric trauma center is located. St. Louis Children’s Hospital has six pediatric ER locations across the St. Louis and southern Illinois region including St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital at Memorial Hospital Belleville, Children’s Hospital at Memorial Hospital Shiloh, Children’s Hospital at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, Children’s Hospital at Northwest HealthCare and Children’s Hospital at Progress West Hospital.
- All caregivers should know your preference for which hospital a child should be taken to in case of an emergency. Our Washington University Children’s After Hours locations provide convenient medical care for your child’s illnesses and injuries as a faster alternative to ERs when your pediatrician’s office is closed, for the same copay as you’d pay at the pediatricians office.