Summer Safety 101: Tips for Fun in the Sun

July 12, 2013

Summertime – school’s out, the beach is in and fun-in-the-sun activities abound. All are reasons for celebration, to be sure, but also reasons for caution, especially in the lives of children and adolescents. Below, Dr. William Hope, a trauma surgeon with New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s General Surgery Residency Program who treats patients who come to NHRMC’s emergency department, responds to some commonly asked questions about summer safety and what you can do to help ensure you and your family have a safe, fun and memorable summer.

Q. Why are children and young people more prone to injuries during summer?

A. Summer typically sees a spike in the number of injuries to children and young people simply because they are more likely to be engaged in outdoor, recreational activities in areas naturally more conducive to accidents – pools and playgrounds, for example. In addition, the risk for injury to children and young people during summer increases because they are often more likely to experience extended periods of time that are unsupervised.

Q. What environments pose the greatest threat of injury to children?

A. As we live in a coastal environment, the water will always pose a significant threat for children and young people. Accidental drowning is, perhaps, the most obvious threat, but extremity and spinal cord injuries can also result from activities such as surfing, body surfing, boating and jet skiing. The home can also be a source of injury – harmful household chemicals, for example, or a backyard pool. The outdoors in general – with summer’s high temperatures – can lead to dehydration, sun burn and heat illness. And because summer typically sees an influx of visitors to our area, congested roadways increase the risk of motor vehicle crashes.

Q. What are some of the most common summertime injuries?

A. Injuries resulting from biking, swimming, skateboarding and similar recreational activities are often common. Falls, motor vehicle crashes, pedestrian accidents and bee, insect and dog bites also top the list.

Q. What can parents do to decrease their child’s risk for injury in the summer months?

The following tips will help your child and family have a safe summer:

1. Explain to your child why safety is important. Set boundaries and supervise.

2. Wear appropriate safety gear, including bike helmets and life jackets.

3. Apply sunscreen when outdoors.

4. Drink plenty of fluids.

5. Keep harmful chemicals out of reach.

6. Buckle up in the car and check your local child safety seat law.

7. Avoid fireworks and open flame appliances.

8. Check in regularly with parents or babysitter.

9. Be alert to changing weather conditions.

10. Appropriately treat bee stings and insect bites.