Summertime Tips for Keeping Kids Safe

School is out and that means children and teens are more susceptible to injuries, both inside and outside the home.

Beaches and pools require the most vigilance by parents and guardians of kids and teens in the summertime. Nonetheless, the Florida Department of Health just released their tips for keeping children safe during the summer break while inside the home as well. That’s because kids are spending more time inside playing with siblings and friends, requiring more than the usual safeguards.

“The comfort of our homes can be shattered by preventable injuries,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong in a statement. “I encourage all Floridians to put home safeguards in place to protect our children and families.”

In South Florida, near-drowning or drowning – so called submersion injuries – can happen year-round, but incidents increase in summer, according to Fernando Mendoza, M.D., Medical Director, Children’s Emergency Center at Baptist Children’s Hospital, and Associate Medical Director of  Emergency Services for West Kendall Baptist Hospital.

“Both young children and teens are vulnerable to water accidents,” Dr. Mendoza said. “Even teens who are experienced swimmers are at risk because they underestimate the dangers associated with water activities. Jumping from a high point into water, rough play in the water or pounding surf can cause injuries and drowning among these youths.”

Dr. Mendoza recommends that parents supervise young children around water and install physical barriers, such as door locks and pool fences, to prevent access to swimming pools when an adult is not around. For older children and teens, he admits it’s more difficult to prevent accidents. But, he says, talking to them about the risks of dangerous behaviors can be helpful. Nonetheless, even older kids need supervision by adults.

“If there is no adult supervision, than the risk of injury greatly increases among all kids,” Dr. Mendoza said. “They become more daring and do riskier things than they would if adults were present. So they’re should always be adults present.”

For younger children who spend more time indoors during summer, the Florida Health Department urges parents to take simple steps to create a safer home environment and prevent the five leading causes of home injury – falls, poisonings, fires and burns, choking/suffocation and drowning.

Here are a few tips from the Florida Health Department for making your home safe for guests of all ages:

  • Ensure working smoke alarms are in each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. Smoke alarms should be tested monthly to ensure they are working properly and the batteries are good;
  • Be sure that fire extinguishers are available on every level of the home and that each household member knows how to use them;
  • Cover all unused outlets with safety plugs;
  • Check used outlets to make sure they are not being overloaded;
  • Install child locks on all cabinets used to store dangerous items such as medicine, cleaners and matches;
  • If your home has a pool, hot tub, or other body of water, make sure each is surrounded by five-foot fencing with self-locking and self-closing gates;
  • Have your family develop, discuss and practice an evacuation plan in case of fire or other emergency.

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