(Salt Lake City, Utah) – Summer is one of the most exciting times of the year for children, but it is also a time when they are most at-risk for serious injuries. And, with injuries being the leading cause of death for children aged one-18 in Utah, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and Safe Kids Utah encourage parents and caregivers to heed safety warnings when it comes to water, motor vehicles, helmets, and heat.
“The summer is a great time to get outside and connect with family and friends, swimming or riding bikes around the neighborhood. But with all of these activities come safety risks we may not always think about,” said Cambree Applegate, Safe Kids Utah director with the UDOH.
Nationally, two-thirds of drowning deaths occur between May and August. Parents have misconceptions about how drownings happen and what they look like. Safety tips include:
- Use the Water Watcher strategy. When there are several adults present and children are swimming, designate an adult as the “Water Watcher” for a certain amount of time (such as 15-minute periods) to prevent lapses in supervision and give parents a chance to read, make phone calls, or take a bathroom break.
- Learn CPR. Learning infant and child CPR can give you tremendous peace of mind if something were to happen.
- Teach children about swimming safety. Enroll children in swimming lessons when you feel they are ready.
- Teach children to be extra careful around pool drains and suction outlets, which can cause them to get stuck underwater. Even proficient swimmers should never swim alone.
- Wear a life jacket. Children and adults should always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket while on boats, around open bodies of water, or when participating in water sports. Make sure the life jacket fits snugly.
Motor Vehicle Safety
Known as the “100 Deadliest Days,” summer months are no time to relax while driving, especially for teen drivers. Safety tips include:
- Wear a seat belt every time you ride in a vehicle. Seat belts are the single most effective traffic safety device to prevent injury and death in a crash.
- Correctly use child safety restraints. Children should ride secured in an approved, age appropriate child safety seat until the seat belt fits properly (at least until the age of 8).
- Remember to “Spot the Tot.” To prevent backing over a child in a driveway, walk around your vehicle to make sure the area is clear. Roll down windows to hear children and adjust your seat and mirrors to reduce blind spots.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, a properly-fitted helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 45 percent; yet fewer than half of children aged 14 and younger usually wear one. Safety tips include:
- Wear an appropriate helmet when you’re on wheels, no matter how fast you’re going. This includes while riding bicycles, scooters, skateboards, and ATVs/OHVs. While there is no concussion-proof helmet, a helmet can protect your child from a serious brain or head injury.
On average, 38 children die each year in the U.S. from heatstroke after being trapped inside a motor vehicle. A child’s body heats up 3-5 times faster than an adult’s body. Safety tips include:
- Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. It can be tempting to leave a child alone in a vehicle for a few minutes, but it can cause serious injury or even death in a matter of minutes. If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911 immediately.
- “Look before you lock.” Leave a reminder on the back seat, such as a purse, employee ID or cellphone, so that you have to open the door to get that item when you arrive at your destination. Or, keep a large stuffed animal on the front seat as a visual reminder that a child is in the back.
- Drink water during sports. Have children drink plenty of water before, during, and after play to avoid dehydration.
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Safe Kids Utah