Dr Anthea Rhodes
Paediatrician, mum and Director of the Australian Child Health Poll
Exhale. Christmas is behind us and lots of kids are busy enjoying their new presents. Did your kids get a trampoline, new bike or scooter or toys for the pool this year? Summer is a great time to switch off the TV and tablet and get active outdoors with new toys, but accidents can happen when kids are playing and there is nothing fun about getting hurt. The latest Australian Child Health Poll found that many parents don’t follow safety guidelines when using outdoor toys and equipment, leading to kids ending up with unnecessary accidents and injuries. As a parent myself, I know how hard it can be to stick to the rules on safety and supervision. Here are some simple tips to help keep your family accident-free while they enjoy their new toys this summer.
Be safe around water
Drowning is the leading cause of death in Australian children under five years of age. It happens quickly and quietly, as a child cannot shout for help when their mouth is under water. Here’s some of my top tips to keep safe around water:
- Never leave children alone in or near water, even for a minute
- Giant inflatables are a big craze this summer, but remember they are not safety floatation devices
- Try to pack pool toys away when not in use so they don’t tempt kids into the water unsupervised
- Backyard ‘pop-up’ pools are a quick and popular option for summertime fun, but if left unattended while filled with water they pose a serious drowning hazard
- Keep kids under six years of age, and older inexperienced swimmers, within arms’ reach when in the water
- If you are swimming in a crowded place it can be hard to keep track of everyone and can be helpful to designate one “water watcher” in the group to watch the children in the water at all times
- Brush up on your first aid skills for drowning. Knowing CPR could save a life.
Jump safely on backyard trampolines
More than eight in 10 Australian kids use a trampoline. Trampolines are a great source of exercise and fun for kids, but injuries are common, with one in six kids on the trampoline sustaining an injury. Some of the common ways kids get hurt are from falling off or from bumping into each other. Many injuries are minor, like cuts bruises and sprains, but sometimes the injuries are serious, like broken bones and injuries to the brain and spine.
To reduce the risk of serious injury on the trampoline, follow the ACCC safety guidelines:
- If possible, fit your trampoline with a safety net and padding
- Only allow one child on the trampoline at a time. The chance of getting injured is much higher when there is more than one person on the trampoline at the same time. A very young child jumping with an older child or adult can be a particularly dangerous combination, because the difference in their weight makes the force of the bounce very strong for the smaller child and they are more likely to get seriously hurt.
- Always supervise kids on trampolines, regardless of age
- It is recommended that kids under six don’t use trampolines but if they do, take extra care with younger children as they are more prone to serious injury on trampolines
- Avoid somersaults and flips, as doing these tricks can increase the chance of injuring the spine and head.
Put lids on kids, always
Make sure your kids, regardless of age, ALWAYS wear a safety helmet when riding a bike, scooter or skateboard to help prevent serious head injury. It is a law in Australia that everyone has to wear a helmet when riding a bike. It is just as important for kids to wear a helmet when riding a scooter or skateboard, even if they are not riding on the road. Kids can be seriously hurt when hit by cars backing out of driveways or simply from falling off when travelling fast and hitting their head on hard ground. Wrist guards, and elbow and knee pads will also help to protect from injuries on scooters, skateboards and roller shoes.
Be ready to deal with accidents and injuries
Accidents are common in childhood, and even with the best precautions, it is not possible or realistic to prevent all injuries. Many injuries can be made less serious with timely administration of appropriate first aid. You can:
- Get a well-stocked first aid kit in your home and car and learn basic first aid
- Download a first aid app, so that they have the information readily at hand if needed
- Or if you would like more information on first aid or help finding a course near you, take a look at the useful links on our website.
At the end of the day, kids will be kids and some spills are unavoidable, but hopefully these tips will help keep your family accident and injury-free this summer while you get outside and have some fun.
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