Good weather increases risk to children

When the sunny summer weather arrives, the B.C. Ambulance Service and BC Children’s Hospital want to remind parents and caregivers that with the good weather also comes risks of injuries to children, some of which can be life threatening.

  • Jul. 29, 2011 6:00 p.m.

When the sunny summer weather arrives, the B.C. Ambulance Service and BC Children’s Hospital want to remind parents and caregivers that with the good weather also comes risks of injuries to children, some of which can be life threatening.

The B.C. Children’s Hospital and B.C. Ambulance Service have summer safety tips for parents and caregivers:

Windows

Don’t underestimate a child’s mobility; children begin climbing before they can walk. A window screen will not stop your child from falling from a window.

•Move furniture away from windows and balcony rails to discourage climbing to peer out.

•Install window guards on windows above the ground level. These act like a gate in front of the window.

•Or, fasten the windows, so that they cannot open more than 10 centimetres (four inches). Children can fit through spaces as small as 12 centimetres (five inches) wide. In either case, ensure there is a safe release option in case of a house fire.

•Young children are avid learners — they may be able to unlock doors and windows to gain access to dangerous areas without you realizing it.

Water and pools

Children are drawn to water, but they do not understand the danger and can drown quickly, and silently, in less than a few centimetres (inches) of water. This summer in Canada, at least one child will drown every two weeks, and there will be a near drowning each day. More than half of these children are under age five. Drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children from birth to four years old.

•Be your child’s lifeguard. Never leave a child unattended near water. Half of all children who drown are alone and unsupervised.

•Be within arms’ reach of your child at all times when in, on, or around the water.

•Ensure young children, weak swimmers and children who cannot swim wear a life jacket or personal floatation device (PFD) when near water, including backyard pools, hot tubs, and paddling pools. And always remember to empty paddling pools after each use.

•Surround backyard pools and hot tubs with a one-metre (four-foot) high, four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching childproof gate. Avoid using the back of the house as part of the fence, as children can still access the pool through the back door.

•Remove toys from the water or near the pool’s edge (these can often tempt children to the water’s edge).

•Enrol your children and yourself in swimming lessons.

•Get trained in first-aid and CPR and make sure that you have emergency equipment including a first-aid kit and a telephone in the immediate pool area.

Vehicles

Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition in which the body’s temperature rises far above normal. Every year, young children suffer injuries from being left in parked cars that get too hot. Remember that the temperature inside a parked car can easily exceed 50C (120F) within 10-20 minutes on a typical hot summer day. In addition, buckles and straps of car seats can get hot enough to cause a burn on a child’s delicate skin.

•Never leave a child alone in a vehicle, not even with the windows down or to run a quick errand. It only takes seconds for an incident to happen.

•Do not park your car in direct sunlight. If you cannot avoid it, cover the car seat with a towel or blanket. Car seat covers are available specifically for this purpose as well. It’s best to keep babies under one year out of direct sunlight as much as possible.

•If a child gets locked inside, call 911 and get him/her out as soon as possible.

Bicycling

The summer months bring a resurgence of bicycle use, especially in children. Children don’t have the mental and physical skills needed to ride in traffic or on the road. Their brains can’t juggle the amount of information needed to pay attention to stop signs, cars, and keeping their balance, all at the same time. It’s best to keep kids away from roads and traffic areas until they are at least 10 years old.

Children should wear a helmet at all times, even if they’re just riding a tricycle. A fall from a tricycle as little as two feet can result in severe trauma to a child’s head.

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