By Constance Caldwell
School is out and summer is here.
While children need opportunities to be active and have fun, there also is a need for parents, grandparents and community members to remember the important role they play in keeping children safe. Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of hospital emergency room visits in all children, and the leading cause of death in children over 1 year of age.
Here are a few tips to keep kids safe:
* Make sure the child’s car or booster seat still fits, is installed correctly and in good working order. The Yolo County Health Department offers individual appointments. Call 530-666-8561 to schedule an appointment.
* Make sure kids are wearing bike helmets, and make sure the helmet fits, is in good repair and the straps are fastened. Children think it is cool to wear a helmet without the straps fastened, but it will provide no protection. Helmets only are required for bicyclists under 18 years of age, but adults can set a good example. Helmets are also an excellent idea for skateboard and scooter riding.
* Caution older teens about the dangers of distracted and reckless driving. It is the No. 1 killer of teens in the U.S. Many distractions do not involve drugs or alcohol at all, but instead involve texting, talking to other passengers, reaching for a drink, putting on makeup, or adjusting music.
* Make sure children know how to swim, but that is no substitute for close supervision by an adult who can swim. Install a fence around a home pool.
Whether in the pool, on the river or enjoying a dip in a lake, understand that water wings, foam noodles and other foam or air-filled floating toys are not safety devices and will provide no protection for children. Especially in a river or lake, put a well-fitting life jacket on your child, and yourself.
Children should be outside and active this summer, keeping them safe will make for a more enjoyable summer for adults as well.
— Constance Caldwell, M.D., is a Yolo County Health Officer.