Summer hazards

Don’t let summertime turn into trauma time

Don’t let summertime turn into trauma time

Summer is an adventurous time for kids, but those adventures can sometimes expose them to potentially dangerous situations. Erika G. Janes, R.N., child advocate and coordinator of Safe Kids Louisville, led by Norton Children’s Hospital, offers tips on avoiding dangerous summer hazards.

“Everyone needs to keep in mind that the summer brings idle time for kids; and while we want them to have free time for creative thinking and exploration, we also don’t want that idle time to lead to accidents,” Janes said. “I recommend to all parents, grandparents and babysitters that you set the ground rules and expectations with children on day one of summer break and then remind them frequently.”


Most injuries in children are caused by falls. Everything from accidents on playground equipment, playing sports and climbing trees can lead to falls. Make sure children use outdoor equipment properly and play with children of similar ages and abilities. Playgrounds with mulch or rubber ground are best for protecting children when they fall. A steadfast rule is that all children must wear appropriate footwear when playing outdoors. Avoid flip-flops and open-toe sandals. Learn more about preventing falls.

Wheeled sports

Whether it’s a bicycle, skateboard or skates, if your child is using anything with wheels, he or she should wear a properly fitted helmet. Correctly worn helmets reduce the risk of brain injuries by 88 percent. Elbow and knee pads are also recommended when it comes to using any type of equipment with wheels. Learn more about helmets and safety.

Water activities

Never take your eyes off children near water and always keep very young children within a hand’s reach. Swimming pools, lakes, rivers, ocean beaches and even bathtubs have the potential to be deadly. When visiting open waters, make sure kids always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Swimming lessons are recommended for all children, but it doesn’t mean your child is drown-proof. Even the most experienced swimmer can struggle, so stay close to your child at all times. Learn about water safety and being a water watcher.


Never leave children alone in a car (the same goes for pets and others who cannot exit on their own). A car heats up 19 degrees every 10 minutes, even if the windows are down! If you see someone stuck in a car, call 911 for help. Also, kids playing outside or competing in sports in the heat are at risk for heat-related illness. Drinking water is critical before, during and after all outdoor activities. Watch for signs of heat exhaustion: dizziness, nausea, cramps and confusion. If your child experiences any of these symptoms, move to a cool area immediately. If symptoms worsen, call 911.

Learn more about staying safe in the heat.

Pedestrian safety

When teaching children about pedestrian safety, it’s important to teach them to always cross streets at corners and face traffic when walking. If they’re walking early in the morning or after dusk, they should wear light-colored or reflective clothing. Consider adding reflective stickers to their backpack or clothing

Children younger than age 10 should always cross the street with an adult. Their depth perception is still developing and they cannot properly judge a car’s distance or speed. Make sure children understand that distracted walking is as dangerous as distracted driving. Teach them to put away electronic devices while walking so they can hear and pay attention to traffic. Learn more about teaching kids pedestrian safety.

Safe place to play

Make sure your children have a safe place to play both inside and out. When outside, make sure kids play in areas that are far from congested streets or people walking by. If there is foot or vehicle traffic, teach your children to never talk to or go with strangers, and what to do if approached by someone they do not know.  Learn more about playground safety.

For indoor safety, make sure all electronics, such as televisions and monitors, are mounted and secured properly to prevent tipping over. Also, always keeps guns and other personal protective equipment locked up and securely out of reach of children. Having a lock on the gun is just the first step; make sure the firearm is then locked securely in a safe the children cannot open. Learn more about gun safety.

No matter how safe you are, accidents still happen and when they do, rely on the medical experts with Norton Children’s Hospital to provide the care your child needs. With board-certified experts in pediatric orthopedics, neurology and emergency care, Norton Children’s Hospital physicians will have your child back on the playground in no time. Find a Norton Children’s Hospital Medical Associates pediatrician.


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