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Kids Outdoor Injury Prevention

Posted on 05-24-2024 in Hand, Elbow & Wrist by Dr. Alex Coleman, Dr. Steven Kronlage, Dr. James Piorkowski

With summer in full swing and children taking advantage of more time to participate in sports-related or other outdoor activities, it’s essential to be mindful of injury prevention while encouraging their interest in activities that don’t involve screen time!

As a parent, you know that accidents can happen anywhere – on a swing set in your backyard, riding a skateboard in a park or biking on a designated path through a neighborhood. To mitigate or at least limit the risk of injuries, adults can take several steps to create safer environments for children as they participate in outdoor recreational activities.

Playing on Playgrounds

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children in the U.S. visit a hospital emergency department for playground-related injuries every two-and-a-half minutes. Although minor bumps, bruises, and cuts frequently occur on playgrounds, many playground injuries are more severe. Broken bones (fractures) and sprains and strains are the most common playground-related injuries that require a doctor’s care. While close adult supervision may be the most critical factor in preventing playground injuries, parents should also keep the following in mind:

  • Only allow children to play on age-appropriate playground equipment and follow instructions posted at the playground.
  • Ensure ground coverings are made of rubber or filled with rubber wood chips when possible, especially for younger children.
  • Do a quick temperature check of the slide and other equipment using the back of your hand to avoid burns from the metal or plastic. 
  • Don’t allow children to go down slides more than one at a time, headfirst, or climb up the front of the slide.
  • Ensure children are seated when they are on a swing, wait until the swing stops to get off and avoid walking in front of others while swinging.

Riding Bicycles & Scooters

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), bicycle accidents accounted for 25% of emergency department-related visits in 2021 in children 14 and younger. While head trauma is the most severe injury associated with bicycle and scooter accidents, the most common injuries we see include sprains and fractures of the wrist and elbow, as well as severe cuts. The most important thing to remember when riding bicycles, scooters and other ride-on toys is wearing a helmet and other appropriate safety gear. Additional safety precautions include:

  • Ensure children meet the bicycle or scooter’s height and weight restrictions/requirements.
  • Don’t allow children to ride at night or on surfaces that are slippery, uneven or have soft sand, which creates hazardous riding conditions.
  • Inspect your child’s bike or scooter for loose parts, and check the steering column/handlebars and breaking/stopping mechanisms work correctly. Teach older children to inspect their bicycles or scooters before they ride.
  • Supervise children of all ages closely the first few times they ride. Younger children should always be supervised and ride only in enclosed areas.
  • Riders of all ages should avoid loose clothing and wear appropriate footwear (no flip-flops).

Skateboarding & Longboarding

Skateboarding and longboarding are also popular recreational activities among children and teenagers. However, according to NSC, 32% of the 245,177 skateboard-related injuries that occurred in 2021 involved children 14 and younger and required a visit to an emergency department. Like other ride-on toys, fractures or dislocations to more severe head injuries can be prevented by following these safety guidelines for skateboarding:

  • Children under five should not ride skateboards, and those 6 to 10 years should be closely supervised by an adult while riding a skateboard.
  • Ensure children wear properly fitted helmets, and wrist guards that support the wrist and reduce the chances of breaking a bone should be worn along with elbow and knee pads to reduce the severity of cuts, scrapes and gravel burns.
  • Check to make sure your child empties their pockets of all hard and sharp objects before putting on protective gear and that they wear closed-toed shoes with slip-resistant soles.
  • Children should avoid riding on irregular surfaces or homemade skateboard ramps in wet weather, crowded walkways, or poorly lit areas.
  • Allow your child to practice in a skate park that offers a controlled environment, experienced adult staff and appropriate access to medical care

With locations in Gulf Breeze and Pensacola, fellowship-trained physicians Dr. Alex Coleman, Dr. Steven Kronlage and Dr. James Piorkowski provide adult and pediatric patients with the latest treatment options, including surgical intervention. Our offices are equipped with the latest imaging and diagnostic equipment, which minimizes the need for additional visits to other facilities and reduces your out-of-pocket costs. Learn more about Hand and Upper Extremity Specialists or complete our online Appointment Request form to book a visit.

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