The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Enjoy a Happy, Healthy Summer: 4 Safety Tips for Families with Children

Posted by on Thursday, June 19th, 2014

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The last thing any parent wants is for their child to get hurt — especially during the summer months when there are so many fun activities planned for the family. Worse yet, are instances where a child’s injury could have easily been prevented with a few basic safety precautions. Regrettably, our sports medicine doctors see an uptick in certain types of injuries this time of year as more kids play outside and participate in summer sports programs. The National Safe Kids Campaign estimates that 40% of all injury-related ER visits and 42% of all injury deaths happen during the few short months between May and August. The good news? We have a few safety tips to enjoy a happy and healthy summer.

children playing
Summer is play time, but avoid these four mistakes to ensure that your kids play it safe.
Image Source: Flickr user David Robert Bliwas

Tip #1: Ask your child how he or she is doing.

We’ve all heard kids wail when they hit the ground. So we automatically assume that our little ones will let us know when something doesn’t feel right, no matter how big or small. However, we find that a lot of kids will just play through pain when they have suffered an overuse injury. They may not realize that what they’re feeling is abnormal, and they may overcompensate with a limp or another type of activity modification. Ask your child how he or she is feeling, physically. Be sure to watch your child move each day to see if anything appears to be “off.”  Look for signs of overuse injury such as diminished interest in a sport or practice, differences in technique or form, unexplained swelling, or pain that worsens with activity. Encourage older children who “feel sore” to take a break, put ice on the ache, and see a physician if the problem still persists several days later.

Tip #2: Avoid signing your child up for too many activities.

Summer is a time of fun for kids, but for parents, it can be hard to adjust to having the kids around eight more hours a day. Parents who work, need more time to themselves, or wish to see their children excel in sports may opt to sign their kids up for a full day of physical activity. While cross-training and varying activities is a good thing, it’s not good to train competitively in more than one sport per season. You don’t want your child training every day of the week or several weeks in a row. It’s not safe for children to go from sitting in school all day to sudden training all day, every day. Ideally, your child should have at least one or two days off a sport each week, and sit out from competitive sports for at least four consecutive weeks of the year, says Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

boy blowing bubbles
Remember good old-fashioned summer fun? Save some room for that, amid the competitive sports schedule.
Image source: Flickr user Tim Pierce

Tip #3: Avoid skimping on the gear.

You may have splurged $200 for that new bicycle, but what about the bike helmet? Does your little rollerblader have knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards? Kids are growing constantly, so you should check to see that all this special equipment fits properly and provides adequate protection against falls. Nothing puts a damper on an entire summer more than a fracture!

Tip #4: Don’t assume that all playgrounds are made with safety in mind.

All playgrounds are not created equal. Playgrounds are frequent causes of emergency visits to The Center For Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine in New York. In fact, more than 205,000 kids visit emergency rooms with playground-related injuries every year. Before letting your child run wild, scope out a playground with soft-surface material (such as sand, rubber tiles, or mulch) beneath the equipment. The ideal depth is at least six inches, according to Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters. The equipment should be securely attached to the ground so it will not tip over. Sharp edges should be covered. All equipment should be free from peeling or chipping paint. Fourteen percent of all leg fractures at one Long Island Hospital were related to playground slides, so take a few extra precautions there. First, parents — never go down with your child! If you think your child is too small to ride a slide, he or she probably is and should find a smaller slide. Secondly, supervise your children on slides at all times to make sure the next slider isn’t following too closely, before the way has been cleared.

playground safety
All playgrounds are not created equal. Watch out for these common dangers.

Get Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention Tips for Child Injuries in New York

The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine is neither merely a podiatrist’s office, nor a sports medicine center: it’s a well-rounded family health center that can diagnose, treat, and issue advice for keeping active children safe from injury. Whether it’s an acute emergency, like a broken bone, or a chronic sports injury like shin splints, our goals are the same: immediate relief from pain, and an effective active recovery. Contact us to set up an appointment.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.