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Published on July 27, 2012

Keeping the Kids Safe from Common Summertime Injuries 

Springfield, Pa. -- The kids have officially been out of school for a little over a month now. Summer activities are in full swing, bringing joy to the kids and concern to their parents. Any parent knows that they need to be on their toes at all times to keep their children safe. 

ER physicians report that when summer rolls around they see an increase in pediatric injuries. The majority of these injuries fall into one of the following categories: 

  • Falls: In particular, skin infections from skinned knees, elbows, etc. are the major concern when a child falls. The lifeguard knew what she was doing when she blew her whistle at a running child. Play it safe and walk. If your child is playing outdoor sports, make sure they wear the proper protective gear. And if they do fall down? “Rinse or wash any summertime boo-boos with at least clean water and make sure no gravel or debris remains,” says Robert Noll, M.D., F.A.A.P., medical director of Pediatric Hospitalists and Emergency Care at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. “Flood the site for several minutes; you can never rinse even a simple wound too much. Simple scrapes can become infected. Any puncture-type injury should be seen by a physician.”
  • Bike, scooter and skateboard injuries: These injuries are closely related to falls, since most occur when a child falls off their bike, scooter or skateboard. To prevent this from happening, make sure your child is wearing a helmet as well as sneakers and knee pads. “I’ve seen awful and unnecessary toe and foot injuries from biking barefoot or in sandals/flip-flops,” Noll says. “Bike helmets go without saying—they save lives and prevent devastating brain injuries.”
  • Dog bites: That fuzzy little dog may look friendly, but never allow your child to walk up to a dog and pet it. “Kids love dogs, and we don’t want them to be afraid,” Noll says. “That being said, never let kids pet a strange dog without the owner’s permission. Even then, use your instinct. Some dogs that are ‘just playing’ can get too rough and nip or outright bite a child. If a child is bitten by someone’s pet, get their address and phone number so that rabies vaccination can be confirmed. Children bitten by an ‘unknown’ dog are still advised to get a rabies vaccination.” Both dog and cat bites can lead to an infection and should be thoroughly washed immediately and then seen by a physician. Many times, cat or dog bites will require the child to take antibiotics.
  • Near-drowning: Every parent likes to tell their child that they have “eyes in the back of their head,” and despite all the jesting associated with it this is one phrase that they need to adopt. “Supervision is the name of the game,” Noll says. “Even little backyard toddler pools hold enough water for a child to drown. If there is water around, adults cannot afford to even turn their backs for a minute. Drowning frequently occurs when the adult supervisor answers a phone call or just ‘steps away for a second.’ A second can be all it takes.”
  • Burns, including sunburns: You’ve heard the saying many times: Apply sunscreen early and often. Noll recommends that parents use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 on their kids. Apply it 30 minutes before activity and liberally reapply throughout the day, especially if your child is in the water. “We do see sunburns bad enough to lead to ED visits and that involve the Burn Treatment Center physicians when needed,” he says. “Additionally, fireworks, even simple sparklers, cause a lot of summertime burns. They are best avoided, but if not, only used under close, responsible adult supervision. Barbecue grills, fire pits, etc. are other frequent causes of accidental summertime burns.” 

Crozer-Chester Medical Center offers a comprehensive pediatric emergency service through a partnership between the hospital’s Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine Departments. Crozer treats more than 10,000 pediatric emergency patients each year, more than any other hospital in the county. Services include, but are not limited to, wound care—including stitches and staples as well as tetanus and rabies vaccination; fracture/sprain diagnosis and splinting; acute asthma care and respiratory infections; rehydration for illnesses; evaluation and treatment for injuries, including head injuries or concussion; fevers and febrile seizures; rapid strep throat testing and other common pediatric illnesses and injuries. 

“We provide an alternative for after-hours injuries or injuries requiring immediate attention,” Noll says. “Pediatricians in the ED provide kids with the specialized care and caring that pediatric training provides, along with the expertise that comes with focusing our practice on children’s care and needs. We in no way want to interfere with the important relationship kids should have with their primary care providing physician, and in fact wish to enhance that relationship through good communication—thus allowing follow-up from our services with the primary care doctor.” 

For more information on emergency services at Crozer-Keystone Health System, call 1-800-254-3258 or visit Crozer-Keystone Emergency Care. You may also visit our Emergency Care Resource Center.

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