Preventing Warm Weather Injuries – Tips for Parents

kids running on playground - hoyasmeg on flickrWarmer weather means more outdoor activities for kids. This guide will give you some concrete tips you can use right now to protect your kids and avoid injury during the warm weather season.

The number one priority

Your top priority as a parent and authority is to find a balance between protection and fun for your kids’ activities. This takes practice, but no one can force you or show you instantly how to do this. You know your children best!

Provide adequate supervision

Be an educated parent. Learn about the risks of your child’s activities and supervise accordingly. Adequate supervision is the most important factor here. If your children are playing in their own fenced-in backyard, they may need less supervision than on a crowded playground with unfamiliar equipment and other children. Even though you can’t prevent all injuries, you can respond quicker if you are nearby.

Teach your children to play safely and respect others

Teaching kids to play safely is half the battle – if they know some basic rules of safety and decent behavior, a lot of disasters can be prevented. For example, kids are notoriously creative – they’ll invent new and more hazardous ways to use outdoor equipment, so supervision is also critical. Teach them how to watch out for dangerous situations. For instance, they should learn not to run in front of swings on the playground to prevent collisions.

Get helmets and protective gear for your kids

Bone injuries are bad enough, but preventing brain injury is even more important. Helmets should be worn during activities that involve high speeds or the potential to lose your balance – biking, in-line skating, water sports. Elbow guards and pads may also help protect against fractures and skin injury.

Keep your child hydrated

Make sure they’re drinking plenty of water when playing in the heat. Plan ahead and put full water bottles and ice in a small cooler before your trip to the park – even if it’s for a couple of hours. Give your child plenty of time to adjust to high heat or humidity and encourage frequent breaks on the hottest days. Stopping every 20 minutes or so for a drink break is a good plan.

Avoid trampolines

Children under 6yo should not use them; they do not have the coordination or strength to avoid injury. Only one kid at a time should be jumping and adults should be present at all times. If you get on the trampoline with the child, do not jump. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by trampoline safety nets or enclosures.

Tips on playground safety

  • avoid playgrounds with hard surfaces like concrete, asphalt, or hard packed soil
  • look for surfaces covered with wood chips, mulch, or shredded rubber
  • several parks have equipment designed for different age groups. make sure your child is playing on the appropriate equipment for their age and skill level
  • make sure you can clearly see your child on the playground and that your kids know where you will be during playtime. you should be able to find each other quickly if an injury occurs
  • there should be adult supervision at all times
  • check the playground and equipment for obvious broken pieces or large objects that may be a tripping hazard

Be sure sports equipment fits your child

If your child plays organized sports, helmets and other protective gear may be used. The best solution is to buy your own, so you know it fits well. Otherwise be sure the shared helmets and protective gear fits your child and that he knows how to put it on appropriately. For example, ask your kid’s baseball coach to let him or her try on the three team batting helmets. One may fit better than the others, and the child should learn to ask for that one each time if possible.

Stretch and warm up before athletic activity

Stretching and warming up before sports or athletic activity may help prevent strains and sprains, the most common injuries in kids during warm weather. Good warm up exercises include jogging, running in place, or jumping jacks.

What to do immediately after an injury

Call 911 if your child is not responding, not moving, or obviously severely injured.

For injuries to legs or arms, use the RICE treatment method to stop swelling, pain and stiffness.

  • Rest: Stop moving the injured part. Stop using it for at least 48 hours. Trying to keep playing with a damaged body part may cause further injury. Splints and braces help with this, so if you have one that fits, use it to stop the motion of an injured joint. Your doctor can advise you when it’s safe to start moving again.
  • Ice: Put an ice pack on the injured area for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, four or five times per day for the first few days. Pad the ice pack with a thin towel to avoid freezing the skin. You can use a Ziploc bag filled with ice, or even a bag of frozen peas.
  • Compression: Ace wraps can be used to provide some light compression to a swollen, injured body part. Don’t wrap it too tight or it will cut off blood flow completely. Wrap the injured part from distal (near the toes or fingers) to proximal (away from the toes and fingers) without pulling the wrap tightly with each turn.
  • Elevation: This is probably the most important step and is the hardest to do. Keep the injured body part elevated higher than your heart during as much of the day and night as possible. Any amount of elevation is better than nothing, but if you keep it above the heart, the swelling will flow downhill and improve motion, pain, and stiffness.

Know who to call if your child is injured

Most serious injuries are recognized quickly, so the chances of getting a quick diagnosis and treatment are high. Other injuries can be subtle but still cause problems in the future.

The most common injuries among children are sprains, strains, and fractures. These involve ligaments, joints, and bones. Orthopaedic surgeons are experts in treating these injuries, whether they need surgery or not.

One of the most common situations we’re happy to see is a worried mom who “just wants to make sure nothing serious is going on”.

If your child has an injury to an arm or leg, make an appointment with one of our bone and joint experts as soon as possible. Peace of mind for parents is something we provide every day.