Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Title: Summer Safety

Category: Child Care


With the beautiful spring weather in the air many children are out riding bikes and swimming. The American Academy of Pediatrics reminds us to have all of our children wear helmets and to use common sense safety measures around the pool. This could prevent 85% of the head injuries which occur every year and save some of the 3000 children who drown or nearly drown, suffering severe permanent brain damage every year.

In buying a helmet for your child, expect it to cost between $20 and $90. Choose one which has a good safety rating by the American National Standards Institute or the Snell seal of approval. It should cover the forehead and fit snugly but comfortably. Make sure the buckle is secure. A helmet with a hard shell gives the best protection. For a very young child, perhaps a lighter soft shell helmet may be appropriate.

Encouraging older kids to wear their helmet may require some modeling by us as parents. We should wear helmets ourselves when we ride with our kids. When parents wear their helmets, 99% of the time kids will wear them as well. Encourage the whole neighborhood to wear helmets as the kids ride around and let peer pressure support them rather than go against them.

Because of the warm weather we have, our children will be swimming now until September. Young children between two and five can't always swim well. They need to be constantly supervised. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends enclosing pools with fencing so that young children cannot climb into them unsupervised. Never allow your child to swim alone or without supervision. Be aware of some emergency plan should the child have a swimming accident. Ideally, learn CPR yourself and keep a rescue device such as a tube or float available. In teaching very young children to swim, be careful that they do not swallow too much water and supervise them very closely.

Finally, teach your kids basic swimming safety such as never running around a pool or pushing others into the water or under water. Teach them to never swim alone and to never swim during storms or with lightning. One unexpected cause of over 100 deaths in the United States last year was drowning in mop buckets. Never leave any large container with water or any kind of liquid around when toddlers are in the area. All it takes is a few inches of water to drown a baby.

With good safety measures and common sense we can enjoy a wonderful Spring and enjoy outdoor sports together with our children in safety.