According to Safe Kids Canada, approximately 1,800 children will be seriously injured this June through August, and approximately 50 will die. It is important to remember at least 40 percent of these injuries can be prevented by following basic safety advice, according to Safe Kids Canada. But there are things that parents can do to ensure everyone has a safe and fun summer.
Making waves: Children under five have the highest risk of drowning because they are attracted to water but don’t understand the dangers. They can drown quickly and silently. According to the Canadian Pediatric Society, drowning is one of the leading causes of death among children one to four years of age. Babies and toddlers drown most often at home, in bathtubs and swimming pools. Children can drown in as little as 4 cm (1.5 inches) of water. According to Shawna DiFilippo, program coordinator for Safe Kids Canada, 50 percent of all drownings happen in backyard pools.
Never allow your child to go near water without Mom or Dad. That is the challenge for parents of children at this age, says DiFilippo: “Young children just don’t understand the risks, and the consequences.” Supervision is the key.
“Pools should be fenced on all four sides and have self-closing and self-latching gates, latched from the inside. [The gate] should block access from the house to the pool because that is often how kids get out,” DiFilippo adds. Don’t forget those baby pools; they should be emptied after every use.
Monkeying around: Parents can help their children stay safe on playgrounds by doing a few simple things, including assessing your child’s abilities before they get involved in new summer sports and activities. Your children may have grown over the past year. It is important to ensure that children are using the right-sized equipment and appropriate safety gear.
Drawstring and skipping ropes are a big no-no on playgrounds. Clothing can get trapped in equipment and strangle a child. Children should not wear bicycle helmets while they are on playground equipment. Their heads may get stuck in a space between narrow openings.
Parents can get playground safety checklists to evaluate basic playground hazards. Contact your local or provincial injury prevention centre, your nearest children’s hospital, or Safe Kids Canada tip line at 1-888-SAFE-TIPS.
Window-watching: DiFilippo says there is an increase in the number of window falls in the warmer weather but that shouldn’t force parents to keep the windows locked. She says there are a number of products on the market that limit how much window can open. Parents can install a window safety device, which stops the window from opening more than 10 cm (four inches). A simpler measure could include using screws in the window frame to prevent the window from opening more than 10 cm. DiFilippo says it’s important to keep furniture away from windows, as well as balcony railings, to prevent young kids from climbing and falling.
Recent numbers from Safe Kids Canada shows that between 1994 and 2003 the number of deaths and injuries are going down. In 1994, there 500 preventable deaths in children; by 2003 that had gone down to 300. DiFilippo says that is in part because of increased education, enforcement, like legislation, and awareness by parents, community and manufacturers.
Let the sunshine in: Protect yourself and your children from the sun particularly in the summer because you’re outside more. Bad sunburns and too much time spent in the sun without skin protection have been linked to a higher risk of skin cancer later in life, according to the Canadian Pediatric Society. Experts recommend you ease yourselves into the sun, don’t try to get a tan all in one day.
Cover up: Lightweight cotton clothing, a hat with a brim, and sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection are all a must for Mom and child. Don’t forget the sunscreen with SPF of at least 30. Reapply throughout the day to ensure proper protection.
Babies under 6 months of age should be kept out of the direct sunlight. Move your baby to the shade or under a tree, umbrella, or use a stroller sunshade to cover your baby. Cover baby with a hat that has a sun flap, sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection, long sleeves and long pants where possible, and keep him shaded between 10am and 2pm. For older babies and toddlers, apply cream containing SPF 30 or higher to all exposed areas, including nose, ears and tops of feet. Be alert for signs that a child is experiencing heat illness and needs to go inside. These include thirst, fatigue, leg or stomach cramps, and cool, moist skin, which can be a sign of heat exhaustion.