May 10, 2002
Summer trauma season brings heightened alert for parents and kids
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.--Physicians at Methodist Rehabilitation Center are urging parents and children to think first about safety and injury prevention, especially during the summer.
The period between May and August is known as the trauma season because of the increased number of injuries that occur.
“Traumatic injuries peak during the summer months when children are out of school and aren’t supervised as much, ” said Dr. Rahul Vohra, medical director at Methodist Rehab. “The more time they spend outdoors increases their risk of injury, especially if they aren’t protected with the appropriate safety gear and supervision.”
Dr. Vohra encourages bike riders to:
- Always wear a helmet. The helmet should fit snug and not move from side to side. The front of the helmet should be approximately one inch above the eyebrows and the chinstrap should be buckled snugly.
- Inflate tires properly and check brakes before riding.
- See and be seen. Always have reflectors on helmets and bikes and wear bright fluorescent colors when riding.
- Obey traffic laws. Stop at stop signs and traffic lights. Look right, then left, then right again at all stop signs, stop lights and intersections. Always check behind you before switching lanes. Ride with the traffic, not against the traffic. Stop, or slow to a crawl before entering any roadway or at blind intersections.
- Ride predictably. Don’t swerve or jump curbs, stay off sidewalks and most importantly, pay attention.
“An estimated 20,000 cyclists are admitted to hospitals and 580,000 receive emergency room treatment each year,” said Dr. Vohra. “Wearing a bike helmet can reduce the risk of a head injury by 85 percent.”
Lauren Fairburn, director of Think First, Methodist Rehab’s statewide injury prevention program, says there are other safety concerns to consider during summer months.
She encourages families traveling with small children to always use appropriate car seats that have been checked by a certified car seat technician and to always buckle up.
“All children 12 and under should ride properly restrained in the back seat,” said Fairburn.
There are several different types of child safety seats.
- Infant Seats. Infant seats are designed for babies from birth until at least 20 pounds and one year of age. Infants must ride in the rear of the car in their safety seats until they are the appropriate size or age to move to convertible safety seats.
- Convertible Safety Seats. These seats convert from rear facing for infants to forward facing for toddlers weighing at least 20 pounds. Children should remain in a forward-facing seat from 20 pounds until they reach approximately 40 pounds and four years of age.
- Booster Seats. These seats are used as a transition to safety belts by older kids who have clearly outgrown their convertible seat and are not quite ready for the vehicle belt system.
- Safety Belts. When a child is old enough and large enough to "fit" an adult safety belt, they can be moved out of a booster seat. To "fit" a safety belt properly, the lap belt should fit snugly and properly across the upper thighs and the shoulder strap should cross over the shoulder and across the chest.
Alcohol-related traffic deaths are on the rise for the first time in five years, according to statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2000, 16,653 people were killed and more than 600,000 others were injured in crashes involving alcohol.
“Safe and sober driving must be a priority for everyone. We want summer celebrations to be fun, exciting and most importantly, safe”, said Fairburn.
Dr. Vohra adds that preventing serious sunburns and protecting skin from too much exposure to the sun is important in preventing skin cancer.
“Sunburns age skin and can cause cancer,” said Dr. Vohra. “Always wear sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 and try to stay out of the sun when sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.”
“Even though summer is a time to get away from school and stress, everyone should remember that they are responsible for their own lives and that they always need to think first before getting into any potentially dangerous situation,” said Fairburn.