Schooltime Safety

photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt

Come September, we see school buses filled with children and kids with backpacks, lunch boxes and new clothes. It’s also time for recess, playgrounds, soccer and football. While all the new experiences are exciting, accidents can and do happen.

Falls from playground equipment, sports injuries and accidents involving automobiles are the three most common reasons for injuries in children. Because of this, it is important to review safety in each respective area as a check off your “to do” list when preparing for school.

1. Navigating Playground Equipment Safely

Visit your child’s favorite playgrounds and look at them from a safety standpoint. Think about safety and age appropriateness of the playground equipment. Notice things like screws without caps, the energy absorbency of the shredded rubber or mulch under the playground equipment, and ropes or smaller openings in the play structure that could cause accidental strangulation.

Be aware that coats and clothing with strings (in the hood or anywhere on the clothing) can also cause accidental strangulation, so dress your children appropriately.

Next, take your child to the playground and walk around it together to review the general rules of the playground. Stop at each piece of equipment and review safety issues, pointing out areas they can get hurt — like jumping from the top of the slide or walking between people who are swinging on the swings. Talking about the cause/effect of an action and what might cause injuries may minimize the chance of your child performing high injury risk actions.

A good website to review is www.playgroundsafety.org.

2. Avoiding Sports Injuries

Joining a sports team promotes team activities, exercise and is downright fun! While some accidents cannot be prevented (like twisting your ankle while running), many accidents can be prevented by wearing the proper sports equipment appropriate for the sport they are playing, like helmets and shin guards.

Also remember that helmets should be worn for any activity that involves wheels (skateboarding, biking, riding a scooter, etc).

3. Preventing Accidents Involving Automobiles

To prevent a child from being hit by a car, constant supervision is absolutely required. Teach children to never go into the street for any reason, but rather go to a responsible adult. Teach boundaries of where they can play safely and where they should never play. (“You can play safely on the front lawn, but it isn’t safe to play on the other side of the sidewalk.”)

As a driver, especially when school resumes, be aware of driving in subdivisions and areas surrounding schools. Children may not always remember to check twice before crossing the street.

As a passenger, make sure your child is in the appropriate car seat and restrained according to the owner’s manuals of the car seat and your vehicle. The most recent recommendations for car seats from the American Academy of Pediatrics are that infants and children should remain rear-facing as long as possible, up to three years of age and 30 pounds. Be sure to check your seat’s owner’s manual for recommendations or car-safety.org.

Remember, children between four and eight years or 40 pounds and under 4 feet 9 inches, need to be placed in a booster sear. See which booster is right for you.

For a free car seat check, call Safety City U.S.A. at (248) 551-0103 for an appointment.

– Kathy Parish, R.N.

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