Everyone looks forward to the carefree, fun days of summer. Whether you enjoy long days at the beach, activities like bike riding, or simply being outside and enjoying the sunshine, there is plenty to do during the summer. However, with people being outside and more active, there is also an increased risk of injury, especially for children.
But protecting children from injury doesn’t mean keeping them indoors and away from their favourite activities. In fact, it means just the opposite: allowing them to experience as many things as possible, according to their age and abilities, while providing appropriate supervision and safety equipment. Here’s how to let your kids have the summer of their dreams while keeping them safe at the same time.
Watch Your Language
Boys are more likely to be injured than girls in many situations (except girls are more likely to be scalded than boys, perhaps due to traditional gender roles for household chores). Some experts believe that it’s because “we use different language: boys are more likely to be told to go for it while girls are told to be careful,” says Fuselli.
Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death for children in Canada, according to Parachute Canada, a national charitable organization dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives. Almost 60 children drown every year, and another 140 require hospitalization because they nearly drowned.
“Parents need to remember that drowning is silent,” says Pam Fuselli, vice-president of knowledge transfer and stakeholder relations at Parachute Canada. “So when children are around water, there needs to be layers of protection.” That means direct supervision of children who can swim (put down your cellphone and watch them!), and non-swimmers need to wear a life jacket and have an adult within arm’s reach. Adults should know how to swim and have training in first aid and CPR.
Fuselli adds another important fact: children don’t usually drown when they’re supposed to be swimming; they drown when they get access to a pool when they are not supposed to be in it. A fence with a locked gate around all sides of a pool, including between the house and the pool, is key to preventing this.
The number one way to stay safe while biking is to always wear a helmet, and even though the law in Ontario is only for children to wear helmets, adults should wear them, too. “The adult skull is no different than a child’s,” says Fuselli. “And adults are also important as role models; kids do what parents do.”
Remember the rule 2V1 for fitting a bike helmet:
- The helmet should be level on your head about two finger widths above the eyebrows.
- The straps should make a V under the ears.
- There should be one finger width between your chin and the straps.
All helmets have a shelf life and they should have an expiry date on the helmet. It should be replaced if you fall while wearing the helmet, even if there is no visible damage.
Going for a walk or playing at the park are natural things to do in the summer, and with more children out, there is a higher chance of them getting hit by a car. Paying attention to the rules of the road and being able to tell when it is safe to cross a street involves perception, sight and hearing, as well as focus and concentration. Before deciding when your child can safely walk or play at the park, observe his behaviour. Does he watch for cars? Can he pay attention while walking when there are distractions? Does he take unnecessary risks in the playground? If your child is used to walking in the community, she might be ready to do that on her own at a younger age.
Parachute Canada works to keep Canadians active in a safe way because getting injured keeps kids out of activities they love. Fuselli’s basic message on safety is “don’t bubble wrap your kids.” There are ways to keep them safe while allowing them to do their favourite things all summer long.
for more information, visit parachutecanada.org