Do your children love to play outside? There are so many benefits to outdoor play. But too often, the youngest members of our families leave their helmets and common sense behind when they venture into the great outdoors. Each spring and summer, hundreds of thousands of children are injured — some fatally —during outdoor recreation activities. There are several simple steps you can take, however, to help avoid injury. Here are several key safety tips:
Have a talk with your children. Explain to them that using certain safety equipment, such as bicycle helmets, can prevent severe injury. For example, each year, 26,000 children are rushed to emergency rooms and diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury related to bicycle riding. Bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury by nearly one-half and brain injury by one-third. Children who wear helmets while bicycling are 30% less likely to die from their injuries.
If it has wheels, wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle, skateboard or scooter is a key part of staying safe outdoors. Children old enough to ride bicycles are affected by peer pressure, so have a talk with your child if he or she plays with children who don’t wear helmets while bicycling. Consider taking them to the store so that they can select a new helmet. Also, read the safety materials that came with the helmet to ensure proper fit.
Have the right safety gear. Depending on what your child is doing outside, you may want to have them wear knee or wrist guards, or other safety equipment. Broken wrists, for example, are common injuries when skating or skateboarding. And don’t skip sports-specific gear designed to protect children from severe injury.
Consider mouth, eye protection. Do your children play basketball, baseball or football? Check with your dentist to see if a mouthguard makes sense for them. The Academy of General Dentistry estimates that wearing mouth guards prevents more than 200,000 injuries and cases of tooth loss a year. Likewise, depending on the sport, protective eyewear may be in order and could prevent a serious eye injury.