Good, Clean Fun
Helping kids stay injury-free this summer
While being active in the summer is great for young people, it also offers opportunities for them to get hurt, says Jill McCabe, MD, Medical Director of the Children’s Emergency Department at Inova Loudoun Hospital.
“Although we see injuries year-round, there is definitely an increased number in the summer season. The types of injuries we tend to see are extremity sprains and fractures, head injuries and lacerations,” says Dr. McCabe.
So what can you do to help your kids avoid injury? “Whenever possible when playing sports, children need to be playing with the proper protective gear,” says Dr. McCabe. “And when playing, do so under the guidelines and rules of your sport and coach, which are designed to protect athletes from injury.”
For younger children engaging in less structured play outside, Dr. McCabe stressed the importance of wearing helmets, particularly during fast-moving activities like bicycling or skateboarding. “Helmets will prevent 90 percent of serious head injuries that occur while riding bicycles, scooters and skateboards,” she says. “If all kids wore helmets it would prevent thousands of ER visits throughout the country each year.”
Swimming Pool Safety
Dr. McCabe also offered some summertime health tips for parents. “It’s important for people to be careful around swimming pools,” she says. “Children should never be unattended and pools should be surrounded by a fence with a self-latching gate.” She also suggested investing in swimming lessons to teach your child how to swim and respect the water and pool environment.
Insect bites, especially from ticks, are a common summer problem that can cause Lyme disease, rashes and other ailments. “We live in an area with lots of vegetation and a higher numbers of ticks,” says Dr. McCabe, “so to protect your children, use insect repellent, dress them in light-colored clothing and check their bodies for ticks.”
Preparing for an ED visit
Jill McCabe, MD, Medical Director of the Children’s Emergency Department at Inova Loudoun Hospital, shares some steps parents can take to make an emergency room visit smoother and easier for everyone involved. She suggests:
Use ice and over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication: “There are very few injuries that it isn’t safe to put ice on,” says Dr. McCabe. The same is true of OTC pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Avoid giving your child anything to eat or drink after an injury until a doctor tells you it is safe.
Take a photo of the “scene of the crime:” Information about the space where the injury occurred can really help doctors in their diagnosis. This can also help for rashes or lesions that change over time.
Bring comfort items: The Inova Loudoun Hospital Children’s Emergency Department has videos, slushies and iPads to take children’s minds off of their injuries. Bringing an additional item or two that you know will keep your child happy always helps.
Visit inova.org/live to see a live recording of Jill McCabe, MD, talking about the different ways you can be prepared in case of an emergency.