For parents and families, life during the time of coronavirus is marked by an information overload of safety measures. From exercising the proper hand washing and sanitizing techniques to ensuring that cloth face masks cover little noses and mouths properly, families today are more overwhelmed than ever.
For many families, one of the most difficult safety measures to follow is to keep their children at least 6 feet from other children, especially when that includes young neighbors with easy access to them. Given the abundance of life-saving precautions now occupying the new normal, June’s National Safety Month provides families with a reminder of those everyday safety risks to children at home and outdoors.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, nearly 7.7 million children are treated for injuries in emergency rooms and 8,000 families lose a child because of a preventable injury every year. Preventable injuries can include falls, biking accidents, heatstroke, drownings, as well as other serious injuries.
Since many families are still quarantining, it’s also important to note the “top five hidden hazards in the home,” which include magnets, recalled products, windows, tip-overs, and pools and spa drains.
It is critical that families remain vigilant when it comes to implementing strategies to prevent injuries. Below are five tips from safety experts that can help keep children safe.
- WINDOW SAFETY. With weeks on lockdown, many children have been getting a glimpse of familiar faces, while dreaming of better days by looking outside their windows. Some children have created artwork to show their support for essential workers and displayed their hopes and dreams for the future from living-room, patio, and bedroom windows. However, families should be aware that about eight children under the age of 5 die each year from falling out a window, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Families should supervise children near windows. The Commission recommends that families consider installing window stops or guards that meet ASTM standards for windows 6 feet or higher from the ground. Also consider adding wood chips, mulch, grass, or shrubs outside of windows.
- WATER SAFETY. Several states removed restrictions on beaches and pools for Memorial Day weekend. In addition to being aware of COVID-19 health-related risks, while spending time on the beach, families should be aware that drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1 – 4 years old. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, the risk of drowning in open water increases with age. For example, the average 10-year-old is three times more likely to drown in open water than in a pool. Children 5 years and older are more likely to drown in natural water such as ponds, lakes, and rivers. Families should make sure children learn to swim and never leave them unsupervised in and around water. In addition, families should learn CPR and basic water rescue skills.
- HEATSTROKE. Did you know that a car can heat up 19 degrees in just 10 minutes? As excitement grows about going outside for the first time in weeks, remember to never leave a child unattended in a car. Never! Not even for a minute to run into a store. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle, on average, every 10 days. More than half of these deaths, according to Safe Kids Worldwide, are because the caregiver forgot the child was in the car.
- PLAYGROUND SAFETY. With many states across the country lifting stay-at-home orders, families will be heading to playgrounds to give quarantined children a bit of relief and much-needed exercise, with social distancing, of course. Families should keep in mind that nearly 80 percent of playground injuries are caused by falls. Children are going to fall, so it’s important for families to supervise their children while on the playground. In order to limit injuries due to falls, families should research community playgrounds for surfaces such as rubber, synthetic turf, sand, pea gravel, wood chips, or mulch that could add a little cushion to a fall.
- BIKING. Many families are seeking relief from the lockdown by going bike riding. Before your family heads out for a ride, it’s important to keep a few safety measures in mind. Experts recommend that families wear masks while riding in highly-populated trails or parks. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, families should never carry an infant younger than 12 months on a bicycle. In addition, families should make sure children’s helmets fit properly.
Sure, this is a lot of information. But what’s important here is that even during a worldwide pandemic, it’s possible to prevent injuries and keep children safe. With summer’s bittersweet arrival and most of the season’s activities canceled, children are experiencing a lot more unstructured time. This means more risk. A more inclusive list of preventable injuries and how to keep children safe can be found at Safe Kids Worldwide or the National Safety Council.