Playground injuries, mostly from falls, account for more than 200,000 emergency room visits each year. The highest-risk group is 5 to 9 years of age. Young children need close adult supervision. Make sure that underneath the equipment, there is an adequate shock-absorbing material, such as chipped wood or any type of rubber product. Also, one ought to inspect the equipment to ensure that it appears to be in good repair.
Bicycling (300,000 emergency visits a year) and skateboarding (30,000 visits) are the leading causes of head-injury accidents in children. Proper safety for these activities includes adult supervision of younger children, routine bicycle maintenance and mandatory use of head-protective helmets. Helmets must be proper to the activity, and they must fit appropriately. But, most importantly, they must be worn!
Swimming accidents ending in drowning are the second leading cause of injury death among children age 14 and younger. All pools must be adequately fenced in and have properly functioning gates. Injury can be avoided by not running around the pool, not jumping onto floating objects and using a diving board only as it’s meant to be used. Again, adult supervision is paramount in preventing swim-related activities.
In 1971, trampoline injuries led to the NCAA eliminating the trampoline from sports competition. I’m sure it’s also why we don’t see this event in the Olympics. Trampoline injuries cause 80,000 emergency visits per year for children age 5 and younger. If you own a trampoline, do not allow a smaller child to be on a trampoline with a larger child, as the smaller one is 14 times more likely to be injured. In fact, one should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and not allow more than one person on a trampoline at a time. Safety netting around the trampoline is essential to protect jumpers from injury. As with all the above activities, adult supervision is mandatory.
I hope you and your children have a fun, but safe, spring and summer.
Terry Hollenbeck, M.D., is an urgent-care physician at Palo Alto Medical Foundation Santa Cruz in Scotts Valley. A doctor with 36 years’ experience, he invites readers to view his previous columns on his website, valleydoctor.wordpress.com. Information in this column is not intended to replace advice from your own health care professional. For any medical concern, consult your own doctor.