By Constance Caldwell, M.D., Yolo County Health Officer
School is out and summer is here. While we want to provide our children opportunities to be active and have fun this summer, we also need to remember that as parents, grandparents and community members, we play an important role in keeping our children safe. Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of hospital emergency room visits in all children, and the leading cause of death in children over one year of age. Here are a few tips to protect your child or grandchild, and to prevent unintentional injuries.
If you are planning a road trip this summer, make sure your child’s car or booster seat still fits, is installed correctly and in good working order. The Yolo County Health Department offers individual appointments to show families how to correctly install their car seats and adjust the harnesses so they fit correctly. Call (530) 666-8561to schedule an appointment today.
If your child will be riding their bicycle about town, make sure she is wearing a bike helmet. Furthermore, make sure the helmet fits, is in good repair and the straps are fastened each and every time. While some children think it is cool to wear a helmet without the straps fastened, that will provide no protection and could result in serious head injury or death. Helmets are only required for bicyclists under 18 years of age, but we can all set a good example this summer by wearing a helmet while at the same time, protecting ourselves. Helmets are also an excellent idea for skateboard and scooter riding.
If you have an older teen, caution him about to the dangers of distracted and reckless driving this summer. Distracted and reckless driving is the number one killer of teens in the U.S. Many distractions do not involve drugs or alcohol at all, but instead involve texting, talking to other passengers, reaching for a drink, putting on makeup, or adjusting the CD player.
What could be more fun on a hot summer day than going to the river or taking a dip in the neighbor’s pool? A good first step is to teach children to swim, but this is no substitute for close supervision of children around water by a responsible adult who can swim – even when there is a lifeguard on duty. If you are lucky enough to own a pool, it is your responsibility to keep the fence and gate in good working order, and the gate closed at all times. And if you are lucky enough to know someone who owns a pool, make sure you close the gate behind you to protect all children in the area.
Whether in the pool, on the river or enjoying a dip in a lake, please know that water wings, foam noodles and other foam or air-filled floating toys are not safety devices and will provide no protection for your loved ones. Especially in a river or lake, put a well-fitting life jacket on your child, and yourself.
We want all our children to be outside and active this summer and to enjoy themselves. They, and you, will have a much more enjoyable summer by staying safe and healthy.