Make it a Safe Summer for Kids

HERSHEY – Spring and summer is trauma season. Penn State Children’s Hospital has expert clinicians and is accredited as a pediatric trauma center to care for the nearly 700 children injured each year. However, Children’s Hospital wants to spread the word that injuries are preventable. Dauphin County Safe Kids Coalition, led by Penn State Children’s Hospital, reminds parents and caregivers that more children are accidentally injured between May 1 and Aug. 31 than any other time of year. That’s when kids are most likely to be riding a bike, swimming, crossing streets, playing sports and spending time at the playground.

This year, the theme of National Safe Kids Week, April 29 to May 5, is “Make It a Safe Summer.” National Safe Kids Week 2007 is designed to teach parents what they can do to keep children safe, especially from the five leading risks: drowning, biking and other wheeled sports, falls, pedestrian injuries and motor vehicle passenger injuries.

Thanks to Johnson & Johnson, the founding sponsor of Safe Kids Worldwide and the annual sponsor of National Safe Kids Week, Safe Kids created “The Safe Kids U.S. Summer Safety Ranking Report,” ranking each state according to their children’s accidental injury death rates in summer. Pennsylvania was ranked No. 9 out of the 50 states for having progressive laws to protect children.

Locally the Dauphin County Safe Kids Coalition plans several activities this week, from a bike safety campaign in Steelton-Highspire Elementary Schools, to a community event in partnership with the Keystone Boy Scout Council from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 5, at City Island, Harrisburg.

Dauphin County Safe Kids Coalition members encourage age-appropriate outdoor activities, but also urge appropriate precautions and active adult supervision. Simply being near your child is not necessarily supervising. A supervised child is in sight and in reach at all times, with undivided attention focused on the child.

Parents and caregivers should know how to minimize the risks associated with the following activities:

— Swimming: Pools should be surrounded by four-sided fences with self-latching gates, and drains should be fitted with safety covers to prevent entrapment. Swimming lessons and inflatable swimming aids do not prevent drowning; there is no substitute for active supervision. Keep a phone handy and know infant and child cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

— Bicycling: Every cyclist needs to wear a properly fitted bike helmet. Kids should ride bikes of appropriate size and should not ride without supervision until they have demonstrated safe riding habits and good judgment. Inspect bikes in the spring and throughout the summer, focusing on the brakes and tires especially. Riders should travel with the traffic and obey all traffic laws, such as stopping at stop signs.

— Playgrounds: The ground under playground equipment should be covered 12 inches deep with mulch, shredded rubber or fine sand. Jewelry, bike helmets and drawstrings in apparel can get caught on playground equipment and strangle a child. Check the equipment at home or in the community to be sure that no repairs are needed.

— Traffic: Teach children to go to the street corner to cross and use crosswalks or walk signals when available. Teach them to cross the street only after looking left, right and left again. Do not allow kids to play in driveways or streets. Children should not cross streets without an adult until age 12.

— Sports: Children need to drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration. Conditioning and stretching before engaging in sports will help to prevent injuries. Wearing proper shoes and equipment can help to prevent concussions and injuries like fractures and sprains. The coach should have emergency contact information.

— Climbing and falls: Windows above the first floor should be equipped with window guards; a screen does not prevent falls. Supervise children around open windows; about 5,000 kids each year are seriously injured by falling out of windows onto hard surfaces. Do not place furniture or other objects near windows.

For information about summer safety or other information on preventing injuries, call Dauphin County Safe Kids Coalition, led by the Penn State Children’s Hospital, at (717) 531-SAFE or visit www.usa.safekids.org online.

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