Kids all over the Twin Cities are enjoying our short spring and summer months, tackling outdoor activities at full speed!  The truth is, summer brings on some of the most dangerous activities and equipment when it comes to the safety of our children.  The top 5 offenders are:

1. Trampoline injuries:

•     Only one person at a time should jump on the trampoline

•     Supervise all children on trampolines

•     Do not allow jumpers to attempt somersaults

•     Make sure trampoline springs covered with padding

•     Do not place the trampoline near trees or other structures

•     Only allow children 6 and older to jump on full-sized trampolines

•     Place an enclosure around the trampoline to prevent falls to the ground

2. Lawn Mowers:

•    Children should be at least 12 years old before they operate any lawn mower, and at least 16 years old for a ride-on mower.

•    Children should never be passengers on ride-on mowers.

•    Young children should be at a safe distance from the area you are mowing.

•    Pick up stones, toys and debris from the lawn to prevent injuries from flying objects.

•    Use a mower with a control that stops it from moving forward if the handle is released.

•    Never pull backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary – carefully look for others behind you when you do.

•    Always wear eye and hearing protection.

3. Playground falls/

accidental strangulation:

•    Remind your child of basic playground rules, such as one person on the slide at a time, and no running in front of moving swings and teeter-totters.

•    Make sure children know to slow down before getting off a swing and never walk near someone who is swinging.

•    Don’t allow children to play on wet equipment.

•    Parents: don’t go down the slide with your children. Commonly a child’s tibia is fractured when his or her leg is pinned between the adult and the slide.

•    Remove any necklaces and jewelry on children that may catch on playground equipment and cause injury.

•    Remove drawstrings and hoods from clothing that could catch on equipment. Children should wear proper footwear, and not be barefooted.

4. Swimming pool/accidental drownings:

•    Teach children to swim. Most children can learn to swim at about age 5 — but know that swimming lessons, or even knowing how to swim, won’t prevent a child from drowning.

•    Don’t assume you’ll hear a child who’s in trouble in the water. Child drowning is a silent death, with no splashing to alert anyone that the child is in trouble

•    Invest in proper-fitting, Coast Guard-approved flotation devices (life vests) for your children.

5. Bike/Skateboard/pedestrian accidents/head injuries:

Scrapes, scratches and broken bones are common injuries for children riding bikes, skateboards, scooters and other equipment. The injuries we worry most about are head injuries. According to the CDC, millions of Americans ride bicycles, but less than half wear bicycle helmets.

Bike helmets are a must for protecting riders of all ages. We also suggest knee and elbow padding for less experienced riders. Most importantly, do not allow children to ride bikes near heavy traffic areas.

Accidents happen and are terrifying for both the child and parent, but knowing which activities and items are most dangerous is an important first step to prevention and hopefully a beautiful, enjoyable and INJURY-FREE summer vacation!

—Dr. Kurt Belk is medical director of The Urgency Room.

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