Safe Kids Fayette County Offers Tips to Keep the Entire Family Safe on Spring Break
LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 28, 2014) — With school out for Spring Break in Fayette County next week, many families are packing their bags for the beach, the campground, the theme park or another out-of-town location. But even for families enjoying a low-key "stay-cation," Kentucky Children's Hospital Safe Kids nurse Zinnia Robinson recommends the following safety considerations for an accident-free week.
Traveling to Your Location
Long drives in the car can be taxing on the kids. Before getting on the road, make sure children are buckled up properly and young children are securely fastened in an appropriate child safety seat. More than 300 children were saved due to the use of a restraining device in 2009 alone. It's also important to remember that children younger than 13 years of age should always be seated in the backseat of the car.
When driving a long way to a vacation destination, plan for frequent breaks and stops along the way. A child's body warms three to five times faster than an adult's body, so parents should monitor the heat in the car and never leave children alone in a car. Drivers should receive adequate sleep before hitting the road, and parents should think twice before allowing an inexperienced driver to take the wheel. Teens ages 15‐19 years old made up 74 percent of motor vehicle occupant or driver fatalities in 2012.
Protecting Your Skin
Many Spring Break-bound families are headed for sunny skies and white sand beaches. But even on a cloudy day at the beach, the sun can have damaging effects on skin. The sun produces two types of ultraviolet radiation — UVA, which causes sunburn, and UVB, which has a lasting impact on the skin and increases the risk of skin cancer. Applying a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher can help protect against the harmful UVB rays.
An extended period in the sun requires frequent reapplication of sunscreen. Be sure to reapply immediately after getting in the water, sweating while playing a sport or drying off with a towel. Also, wear hats and sunglasses for extra protection and take frequent breaks indoors.
Robinson said a good rule of thumb in hot climates is to provide a water bottle for every member of the family. When active, children around 88 pounds should drink 5 ounces of water every 20 minutes and adolescents around 132 pounds should drink 9 ounces of water every 20 minutes. Severe dehydration can be a life-threatening condition, especially in children. Symptoms include cramping, faintness or dizziness, nausea, emotional instability and high body temperature.
Watersports and Drowning
Riding jet skis and boating might seem like great family activities. But without the proper certifications, equipment and, most importantly, adult supervision, these sports pose risks to youth and children. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, sports and recreational activities contribute to about 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among American children and adolescents. Robinson said children and youth should always wear lifejackets on the water — no matter their age or swimming ability. It's also a good idea to do some prior research on state laws regarding the operation of watersport vehicles.
"The nice thing about our kids is they are so active and they love to explore their environment, and we don't want to stifle that," Robinson said. "We want them to explore their world, but with appropriate supervision."
According to Safe Kids, on average more than 1,000 kids die every year from drowning. Drowning accounted for 70 percent of boating accident fatalities in 2011 and is the leading cause of injury-related death for children between ages 1 and 4. While it might be too late for swimming lessons before vacation, Robinson stresses that it's critical for children who are going to be around water to learn how to swim. For older children, make sure everyone has a swimming buddy and that children are obeying the signage around pools and beaches. Robinson emphasized that no safety measure can replace adult supervision.
On big family vacations and visits to theme parks, it's important to have protocol in place to help everyone to stay connected. Before entering a theme park, mall or busy public beach, discuss an emergency separation plan with the family and designate a meeting place. Parents should make sure children know where to go and who to trust if they are separated in a crowd. Cellular devices readied with emergency numbers can also help keep families safe.
Staying at Home
For families staying home on Spring Break, safety risks exist when children are left alone at home. A parent required to leave children at home during the workday should make sure an adult checks on their children from time to time. It's also a good idea to establish a family password so children can discern whether someone at the door or a caller can be trusted. Ultimately, parents must use good judgment when leaving children at home alone. Discussing safety hazards around the house and having an emergency response plan for children is essential.
For more information about safety for children, visit www.safekidsfayettecounty.com or call Safe Kids Fayette County at UK Children's Hospital at 859-323-1153.
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