Many of us will travel on the road. All children and adults riding in any vehicle must buckle up. It is the law. Seat belts, used correctly, have saved many lives. Although most parents do use child safety seats for their infants and young children, surveys continue to indicate most child safety seats are not used properly.
Common errors include improper installation, lack of a tether strap, a loose harness, lack of a locking clip or not using car seats for all children under 40 lbs or 18 kg. Do not place the safety seat behind an air bag.
To protect your infant or child:
Your local automobile association and public health clinic will have more information.
At least 45 per cent of Canadians 10 years old and up participate in recreational bicycling. More than 85 per cent of 10- to 14-year olds do the same. The sad news is that up to 200 Canadians die each year as a result of cycling-related injuries; almost half are children under 14. Head injuries account for the majority of the deaths. Wearing a bicycle helmet reduces the risk of serious head injuries by 85 per cent.
More than half of bicycle-related injuries occur in the summer months. Almost another third happen in the spring. The most frequent location (64 per cent) for injuries is on public roads. Not surprisingly, bicycle-related injuries account for a rate of hopsital admissions higher than the average of other causes. Death is not the only tragic outcome of head injuries. Survivors of bicycle-related head injuries may suffer with disability from paralysis and neurological damage including problems with concentration, headaches and memory difficulties.
Helmet use is definitely on the rise in Canada. Parents can set an example for their children by wearing helmets. Helmet prices have fallen drastically in recent years. You know you are buying the right one if it carries one of the three stickers of approval: CSA, SNELL or ANSI. To make sure the helmet fits properly, the person who will be wearing it should be present at the time of purchase. It should fit the head snugly, but not too tightly. If you need more information on bicycle helmets, call your public health department.
When you take your child to a playground, make sure the equipment is appropriate to the child’s physical ability. Children may lack the strength and balance to hold on securely for themselves. Help your young child hold onto a merry-go-round and other equipment. Take the weather into account. Wet hands, shoes or equipment increase the risk of injury. Look at the protective surface under play equipment. You should find a shock absorbing surface such as sand or pea gravel, not concrete, asphalt or grass.
Pay special attention to what children wear to the playground and avoid clothing with drawstrings, scarves, ties or loose clothing. These have caused many playground-related deaths by strangulation in Canada in recent years. When children are using the slides, swings or climbing structures such as monkey bars, instruct them about safe behavior around the equipment. For instance, when playing on slides, encourage them to use the steps and never climb up the sliding surface or on top of the tunnel. They should look to be sure everyone is out of the way before sliding and slide down, feet first, sitting up, one child at a time.
The trampoline was invented in 1936 by George Nissen, a circus acrobat. During the Second World War, it was used to help train allied fighter pilots. Then it was popularized in western countries in the 1950s and ‘60s. In Canada, hundreds of children have been injured doing this activity. Although in general, boys sustain more types of injury, trampoline related injuries occur more frequently among girls. Factors that contribute to these injuries include having more than one person on the trampoline, landing on the edge, getting caught in the springs, jumping or falling off the trampoline, or being hit by another child. The more serious injuries that happen when trampolining affect the head and neck, but the most common injuries (fractures) occur in the leg or foot, arm and head. Trampolines are no longer part of competitive sport and their use in home and recreational settings is strongly discouraged by the Canadian Pediatric Society because of the serious injuries that are potentially associated with them.
Drowning is the second leading cause of childhood accident-related deaths in Canada. Drownings occur in private pools, bath tubs, public pools, farm dugouts, lakes and rivers. A special group at risk are children (or adults) with seizure disorders (epilepsy). All children, and especially this group, should swim with a friend in a supervised setting. The use of approved personal floatation devices is likely to reduce drowning deaths and injuries but these life jackets do not lessen the need for adult supervision. As well, armbands and inflatable toys are playthings only. Parents must closely supervise children using them. When in a home with a private pool, ensure that your preschooler is kept out of it by a four-sided fence, with a self-latching, self-closing gate.
Many Canadian families experience the pleasures of camping and the outdoors. It is important to have a safety sense while camping to keep it an enjoyable activity.
Check out the campsite and teach your children about hazards to avoid, like poisonous plants, moving vehicles and wild animals. For instance, it is important to obey the signs and warnings about wildlife. If raccoons or skunks come to your campsite, steer them away with a flashlight or by making a loud noise. Do not keep food in your tent where it can be smelled by animals. Store it in your car or if you are backpack camping, suspend it from a tree well away from the tent.
Light wood fires only in authorized areas and downwind from the camp. Make sure to keep children away from the fire. When finished with a fire, spread the burnt pieces, soak them with water and cover them with sand. It is a good idea not to walk around barefoot as glass, sharp objects or rocks can hurt bare feet. Listen to weather reports before heading out on activities such as hiking or boating.
To protect your child against mosquitoes and other insect bites, clothe your child with long sleeves and pants, and spray clothing with a mosquito repellent. Never use repellent on broken skin, wounds or sores. Spray it lightly on exposed skin. This will last four to eight hours. Wash the repellent off after coming indoors. Use repellents that have less than 50 per cent DEET concentration, as DEET on occasion has caused toxic reactions in children. Do not use repellents on babies under six months. Instead, use other, gentler products.
Episodes of sunburn, especially during childhood, increase the risk of developing skin cancer in later years. It takes six to 24 hours for a sunburn to show. The skin may be getting sunburned, even if it is not red. The best protection from the sun comes from clothing - loose, long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Wearing a hat regularly in the summer has greatly decreased the risk of getting skin cancer. Recommended hats have with a brim of at least 7.5mm (3 inches).
Many sunscreens with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher are now available to protect against ultraviolet (UV) rays, both UVA and UVB. Choose a sunscreen that has the Canada Dermatology Association (CDA) logo, such as Photophex , Ombrelle Lotion 15, UV Guard SPF 15, Waterbabies UV Guard SPF 15 or Oil of Olay UV Protectant moisturizing lotions and creams.
To use a sunscreen, it is recommended that you apply it generously at least 30 to 45 minutes before exposure to the sun to allow it to penetrate the skin. Re-apply after swimming and every two to three hours. UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The sun is more intense the closer you are to the equator and the higher the altitude so adjust your sunscreen strength accordingly. In short, to prevent future skin cancer, avoid the noon day sun, seek shade, use clothing, hats and sunscreen.
Summer is a time for relaxed enjoyment. Keep it safe by following a few simple measures.