When summer’s warmth seeps in (it will eventually, really), kids go outdoors to play. While sports and recreation are fun and healthy pursuits, they carry some risks.
See if you can relate to any of the following parenting concerns, and then check out the advice from experts that can help make your summer fun less frantic.
My teen skateboards everywhere—but not always with a helmet.
Try this plan: He should definitely wear a helmet and wrist guards. Your message may get through once your child knows the risks. Your pediatrician might help with this.
“Children respond better when they understand what happens to the brain during an impact injury,” says Andrea Gravatt, MD, a pediatric physician in the Emergency Department at MultiCare Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.
Helmets are a must when riding skateboards, bikes, inline skates—anything that might put kids at risk for falling and landing hard, adds Robert Kregenow, MD, a pediatric emergency physician with Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. Head injuries can have lasting effects. “Unlike the rest of your body, if you break your brain, we can’t fix it,” Dr. Kregenow says.
Take-away tip: Helmets help prevent brain injuries—by 85 percent in cycling. If your child’s not excited about wearing a helmet, here’s a hint: Kids are more likely to wear one when they like how it looks.
Tempted by a trampoline:
My daughter wants a trampoline. Aren’t they risky?
Try this plan: It’s hard to say no to this fun form of play, Dr. Gravatt notes. “Last summer for several weeks, it seemed like there was a trampoline injury almost every night,” she says. So parents should know the risks—including sprains, strains, fractures and cuts due to colliding jumpers and falls.
Take-away tip: Think twice. The American Academy of Pediatrics says trampolines should only be used in supervised training programs or for competition sports.
Bothered by bugs:
I’m concerned my curious kids will be bitten or stung outside near our home.
Try this plan: Remind kids to steer clear of hives and nests and to report any they find. Don’t give them scented sunscreens, which may attract insects. Stings can be dangerous if your child is allergic, in which case an EpiPen should be handy.
Take-away tip: There’s always a first time for severe sting reactions, Dr. Gravatt notes. Call 911 at first sign of lip or face swelling or trouble breathing or swallowing.
Spot a teachable moment
When you can, point out to your child anything you see that might be dangerous—whether it’s wild mush rooms on the trail or little things like sandthrowing on the playground, Dr. Gravatt says.
“Each day is an opportunity to teach kids something about safety,” she says.
Are your kids prepared for emergencies?
We all worry about how our kids would handle an emergency when we’re not around. Visit multicare.org/kids-emergency with your kids to help them learn how to tackle an emergency situation head on.