Playing outdoors is a great way for kids to be active, build physical and social skills and get their dose of vitamin D from the sun. And after what seemed like endless rain this winter, it just feels good.
But outdoor activities can also lead to injuries. Some, like cuts, bruises, and broken bones, can heal. But others, like head injuries, can cause lasting effects.
According to Gary R. Simonds, M.D., chief of neurosurgery at the Institute for Orthopaedics and Neurosciences at Carilion Clinic, preventable injuries remain the leading cause of death for children in the United States, and approximately 80 percent of pediatric trauma cases are head injuries.
Head injuries can cause a broad spectrum of symptoms and disabilities that range from mild to devastating, and recovery from a traumatic brain injury can take years, or even affect a person for the rest of his life.
Therefore, the best way to protect your child from a brain injury is to try to prevent it from happening in the first place.
“Injury prevention measures can help parents and caregivers create an environment where kids can explore and play while minimizing the risk of serious harm,” Dr. Simonds explained.
Here are 10 easy tips to keep your children safe, inside and outside of the home while they play and explore:
1. Always make sure your child wears a helmet when engaged in the following activities:
- Horseback riding
- Riding a powered recreational vehicle such as a four-wheeler
- Skiing or snowboarding
2. Be a role model. If you wear a helmet and protective gear, your kids will too.
3. If your child plays sports, learn the signs and symptoms of a concussion. This is even more important if you are a coach.
4. Do not let children use sports equipment that is unsuitable for their age.
5. Replace sports equipment or protective gear when it has been damaged.
6. Install window guards in your home and use approved safety gates on stairs.
7. Secure televisions and furniture so that kids cannot tip them over.
8. Always use a car seat, booster seat or a seat belt when traveling in a car with children. Every ride, every time.
9. Do not let children use playgrounds with hard ground surfaces.
10. Do not dive in water less than 10-feet deep or in above-ground pools. Check the depth and for debris in the water before diving.
Just a few simple precautions can keep a day of fun from turning into a tragedy.
Now get outside and enjoy the warmth and sunshine while it lasts!