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Spring 2009
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Have Fun this Spring – the Safe Way

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With temperatures warming, families will be spending more time traveling and participating in outdoor activities. Here are some tips for staying safe while having fun.

Motor Vehicle Safety

For children 14 years old and younger, unintentional injury-related deaths occur most often when riding in a car. According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, children under age four who ride in motor vehicles unrestrained are twice as likely to die or suffer injuries in a car crash.

So buckle up! Proper restraints for children riding in motor vehicles depend on the child's age and size. Restraints to keep a child safe in the car include:

  • infant safety seats,
  • child safety seats,
  • child boosters seats, and
  • properly used safety belts.

Cycling, Skating and Scooter Safety

More than 70 percent of children, between the ages of five and 14 ride bicycles. In-line skating and skateboarding are also very popular among this age group. Although a great form of exercise, riding a bike, in-line skating or skateboarding without protective gear can be dangerous. Along with motor vehicle-related injuries, bicycles injure more children than any other consumer product, according to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign.

Here are a few safety tips to ensure your kids have fun outside:

  • Make sure your child wears a helmet and other protective gear every time he or she bikes, skates or rides a scooter.
  • Make sure the helmet fits snugly and does not rock back and forth. It should be centered on top of the head and always strapped and buckled.
  • Don’t allow your child to ride a bike that is too big for him or her.
  • Make sure your child’s bike is in good working order.
  • If your child is under 10, make sure he or she cycles, rides a scooter or skates only on sidewalks, paths or other designated areas.
  • Teach your child the rules of the road including all traffic laws.

Sports Safety

Participating in sports is great for children both physically and psychologically. Sports can increase a child's physical coordination, fitness and self-esteem. In addition, sports can teach children about teamwork and self-discipline.

However, because children's bodies are still growing and their coordination is still developing, children are more susceptible to sports injuries. Approximately 3.5 million children 14 years old and younger are treated for sports-related injuries each year.

To help prevent sports injuries in children, follow these recommended safety precautions:

  • Properly warm up and cool down after a sport event.
  • Never play through an injury. Always get immediate medical attention if injured.
  • Wear SPF 15 or higher sunscreen.
  • Always stay hydrated.

Pedestrian Safety

Pedestrian injury remains the second-leading cause of unintentional-injury related death among children between the ages of five and 14.

To help prevent your child from getting hurt as a pedestrian, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign recommends the following tips:

  • Do not allow children younger than age 10 to cross streets by themselves.
  • Teach proper pedestrian behavior by modeling pedestrian behavior correctly such as crossing at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks when available and making eye contact with drivers before crossing.
  • Teach children to look LEFT, RIGHT and then LEFT again when crossing a street and to continue looking around when crossing.
  • Teach children that seeing the driver in a vehicle does not mean that the driver can see them.
  • Never allow children to run into the street.
  • Do not allow children to play in driveways, unfenced yards, streets or parking lots.
  • When walking along a street with no sidewalks, teach children to walk facing oncoming traffic, as far left as possible.
  • At dawn and dusk, dress children in retroreflective materials and carry flashlights.
  • Teach children to cross the street at least 10 feet in front of a school bus.
  • Teach children to wait for adults on the same side of the street where the school bus loads and unloads.
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Good Health for Kids is produced by Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas.