Saturday, July 11, 2009

Injuries and seizures

Emergency room doctors note that as the temperatures rise, so do trips to pediatric emergency rooms. Severe cuts, broken bones and head injuries are the most common causes for ER visits during the summer, says Tony Scalzo, M.D., professor of pediatric emergency medicine at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.”In the summer, we see a much higher incidence of injuries caused by accidents and sports,” says Scalzo, who is a SLUCare pediatrician at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center.

These are the six most common summer dangers for kids, according to a SLUCare press release:

1. All-Terrain Vehicles: There are two things Scalzo would like to see banned in America - ATVs and trampolines. Sure, kids have fun on these but they also cause a lot of preventable, serious injuries, he says.

While children can get hurt doing anything from climbing trees to playing on the monkey bars, Scalzo says ATVs are more likely to cause serious, life-threatening injuries. ATVs are more dangerous because they are motorized and have a lot of momentum. It’s also easy to lose control of them, which can lead to the heavy ATV falling on the driver. If you choose to let your child drive or ride on an ATV, despite the danger, it’s absolutely necessary to wear a helmet, Scalzo says.

2. Trampolines: Every summer children come in the emergency room with broken bones and serious gashes caused by falling off a trampoline or falling on the metal springs. If you decide to decide to let your children jump, though, Scalzo recommends installing the protective netting around the trampoline that will prevent the most serious accidents.

3. Bikes, Inline Skates and Skateboards: Each year, more than 580,000 bicyclists and 100,000 in-line skaters and skateboarders are injured. The majority of these accidents can be prevented with proper use of the proper safety gear. Wearing a properly-fitting helmet prevents 85 percent of head injuries, yet only 11 percent of children ages 11 to 14 wear helmets. Wrist guards, knee pads, elbow pads and shin pads are also a good idea for skaters.

Other bike safety tips include: testing the bike’s brakes, making sure tires are secured tightly and properly inflated, wearing reflective material and using a light when riding at dusk or dawn.

4. Drowning: Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death among young children and can occur in the bathtub, swimming pool, while boating or even in small amounts of water, such as in a large cooler. Children should never be left unattended near water and should always wear a life jacket when near a pool or boating.

Home swimming pools should be protected with fencing on all sides and have securely locked entrances. Splash alarms can add an extra level of safety, but nothing can substitute the importance of parental supervision.

5. Car Accidents: Being properly restrained in a car is imperative all year long. However, because families take more road trips during the summer, more injuries caused by children not wearing seat belts are reported during this time of year. Even if your children get antsy during long car trips, Scalzo says it is never safe to allow them out of the appropriate booster or car seat. Instead, make more frequent stops to let them burn off their energy.

6. Heat and Dehydration: Every year children die or become very sick from being left inside a car. Heat and dehydration can be very dangerous for children. Scalzo says children should not be left in the car for even a short period of time because the car can heat up quickly.

Keeping children well hydrated, especially when they are playing outside in the heat is also important. However, parents should avoid giving infants water because it dilutes the salt in their blood and can lead to respiratory problems and seizures. For infants, Scalzo recommends offering an extra bottle on hot days.


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