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    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Head Off Summer Injuries by Setting Strict Rules for Kids

    Head Off Summer Injuries by Setting Strict Rules for Kids




    Thanks to wearing a helmet, 11-year-old Shannon Whale is alive today after suffering a head injury in a scooter crash. Here she plays with Rocky and her mother, LaRae Whale, at their home in Alpine. (Al Hartmann/The Salt Lake Tribune)
    By Heather Simonsen
    Special to The Tribune

    She had just moved from the dinner table to look for her 11-year-old daughter, Shannon, when the phone rang.
    It was the call no parent wants to receive.
    LaRae Whale of Alpine put down the phone and ran from the home in a panic to find her daughter lying in a pool of blood, surrounded by concerned neighbors and rescue workers.
    Shannon had struck a sunken square of sidewalk pavement while riding on her motorized scooter and crashed hard.
    "We didn't even know if she was alive and breathing, she looked so bad," recalls Whale about the accident last month. "We just kept saying, 'Is she breathing, is she breathing?' "
    Shannon drifted in and out of consciousness for several days at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City, where she had been taken by helicopter. Doctors discovered she had suffered bruising and tearing of her brain connections.
    The girl eventually pulled through and is expected to make a full recovery. Doctors credited Shannon's survival to the helmet she was wearing when she crashed.
    "She started to get on [the scooter] without a helmet and my husband caught her," says Whale. "She said, 'Oh Dad, oh Dad, if it will make you happy.' "
    Setting strict safety rules, such as wearing a helmet while using a scooter, at the beginning of summer can prevent accidental injury or death.
    Unintentional injuries remain the No. 1 killer of children in the United States, according to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and Johnson & Johnson. Research shows that accidents claim an average of 15 children each day. Head injuries and drownings top the list of accidental deaths.

    Helmet message: Howard Corneli, emergency room physician at Primary Children's Medical Center, says lack of helmet use during the summer is the main reason he cringes when the season approaches.
    "Most kids survive broken arms and wrists, but a head injury can be tragic," says Corneli. "You don't always recover from a head injury -- that destroys your future life."
    Statistics show that by requiring children to wear helmets, parents can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent. Doctors say children who ride on anything that rolls -- bikes, skateboards, scooters, inline blades or roller skates -- should also wear helmets.
    As sales of foot-propelled scooters have soared in recent years, so have injuries.
    Stuart Weinstein, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, says parents must be aware of the dangers associated with scooters.
    "Very often, children do not wear protective gear and are not fully aware of important safety precautions."
    Corneli recommends parents implement a "first time, every time" rule to make sure their little roadsters always wear helmets.
    "If you have exceptions, the exceptions become the rule. If you skip your helmet, that [ride] will be the time you have a bike wreck. We certainly see this a lot."
    Helmets should be worn low on the forehead with a snug fit so they don't wiggle loose, explains Corneli. "You don't want the forehead exposed to the air and the asphalt," he says.
    Kids should always ride with the flow of traffic, not against it. Safety experts recommend parents ride along with their children. The younger the child, the more supervision he or she will need. "Almost all the injuries we see are children out on their own," says Corneli.
    Riding on sidewalks often isn't any safer than roads. "The sidewalk rider is at risk for cars pulling out from their driveways," he says.
    Corneli says some of the worst accidents happen in the driveway when a parent is backing out and accidentally hits a child out of view.
    "Make sure the child is in sight and controlled," he says.

    Water hazards: The next most common summer hazard for children lurks in the inviting waters of swimming pools. Corneli says ER doctors are seeing increasing home swimming pool drownings in Utah, probably because of the growing number of residential pools.
    "You need to have a fence that keeps the child from accessing the pool from the house; a fence around the yard is not sufficient."
    Pool covers typically do not provide adequate protection, says Corneli. Sometimes a child can get under the pool cover and have an even more difficult time getting out.
    Children who can swim are often more daring than they should be and take risky dives.
    In 2001, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 208,000 swimming injuries were treated in U.S. hospitals, doctors' offices, clinics, ambulatory surgery centers and emergency rooms. Among those injuries, there were 850 spinal-cord injuries from diving accidents. Of those, more than 300 injuries occurred at a home pool. The majority of pool-related spinal-cord injuries resulted in paralysis of all four limbs.
    The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons advises that parents and caregivers point out depth markings, lighting, diving-board location, surface and time for pool use for their children and guests. Teach kids to never dive into shallow water and to dive only off the end of a diving board.
    The group also warns parents and caregivers to never leave children alone in or near the pool. Anyone watching young children around a pool should learn CPR and rescue skills. Also, remove all toys from the pool after use so children aren't tempted to reach for them.
    If you head out to public pools this summer, keep in mind that doctors say it is easy to lose track of kids there. "Your preschoolers need to be supervised one on one with an adult, a constant process of visualization," says Corneli. "You need a responsible parent who is fully engaged."
    On boats, children should always wear life jackets, says Corneli. "No one expects any child to fall off the houseboat or a watercraft. It's no good to have the vest on the floor of the boat. This is a tragedy that's easily preventable," he says.

    Other safety rules: Children playing outdoors this summer should heed the sign "Beware of Dog." Dog bites injure about 4.7 million people in the United States each year; 60 percent of those victims are under 13. Children are at least three times more likely than adults to sustain a serious injury.
    The National Association for Humane & Environmental Education says kids should always ask the owner for permission before petting a dog. Children should never pet a dog that is eating, sleeping or playing with a toy. Little ones need to approach dogs slowly and speak softly, avoiding direct eye contact. They should let the dog sniff the backs of their hands, and gently pet the animal's back or sides.
    If a dog growls or starts to chase, teach children to stay still. Don't run. A dog is more likely to sniff children and go away if they remain still.
    By teaching children good safety rules and sticking with them, parents and caregivers can help keep this summer safe and enjoyable. Just ask Shannon's parents.
    Her father's insistence that she wear her helmet saved her life.
    Though Shannon is still dealing with dizzy spells and headaches from her head injury, doctors say those symptoms should go away with time.
    "There are a lot of people we saw in the trauma room who did not have as good of an outlook," says the girl's mother. "I don't even want to think about where we'd be without [the helmet]."
    For more on summer safety, visit http://www.safekids.org.

    * Make it a "house rule" to always wear a helmet when riding.
    * Make sure the helmet fits correctly.
    * Replace damaged helmets (even ones with tiny cracks).
    * Teach your child how to adjust the helmet to fit snugly.
    * Store helmets near bikes and trikes.
    * Set an example for your kids by wearing a helmet.
    * Start your children wearing helmets when they are young.
    * Praise and reward children for wearing helmets.
    -- Source: Intermountain Health Care

    The Greater Salt Lake Area Chapter of the American Red Cross offers the following tips for staying safe in or around the water:
    * Learn to swim and swim well. No one, including adults, should ever swim alone. Adults should practice "reach supervision," which means to be within an arm's length of a child.
    * Outfit everyone with the proper gear. Kids and adults who are not strong swimmers should use U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices whenever they are in or around the water. Everyone, including strong swimmers, should use an approved flotation device when boating.
    * Always keep basic lifesaving equipment near a residential pool and know how to use it. Recommended are a first-aid kit, cordless phone, phone list with emergency contact information, reaching pole and ring buoy with a line attached. In addition, the Red Cross recommends that pools be surrounded on all sides by a fence that is at least 4 feet high and should have a self-closing, self-locking gate.
    * Swim in supervised areas only.
    * Obey "No Diving" signs.
    * Watch out for the "dangerous toos." Take a break at the point of being too tired, too cold or too far from safety, or having experienced too much sun, too little hydration or too much strenuous activity.
    * Don't mix alcohol and swimming. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance and coordination, affects your swimming and diving skills and reduces your body's ability to stay warm.
    * Pay attention to weather conditions. Stop swimming at the first indication of bad weather.
    * Learn Red Cross first aid and CPR.
    For more information, visit http://utahredcross.org.
    -- Source: Greater Salt Lake Area Chapter of the American Red Cross










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  2. #2
    Senior Member Jadis's Avatar
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    bumping.... it's that time of year again.

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