Avoiding warm weather injuries in children

April 5, 2010 3:29:54 PM PDT
Any parent will tell you that it doesn't take much for kids to find trouble. But there are certain times of the year when they're more likely to get hurt. These past few days of warmer weather are a preview of what injuries can befall kids once summer is in full swing. And the warm weather holidays of Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day are the times that kids get banged up the most.

Sawing off a cast is a familiar sound and scene if you've ever had a broken bone. Nine-year-old Frank Castro got rid of his cast and is using a velcro boot instead.

"I was going to catch the ball, but my friend got in front of me and I tripped over him," he said. "When I did that, I heard a crack from my bones."

Frank's broken foot is unusual for childhood trauma, says a report in the journal "pediatrics." It says injuries happen generally in kids under 5 who mainly get scrapes on their faces and heads and sprains of the hands and wrists. As with 3-year-old Brianne Payamps's sprained wrist, the risks are not always outdoors.

"She was playing with her brother and he pushed her," mom Paola Marmol said. "And when she fell, she twisted her wrist."

But what's brought more kids here to the pediatric orthopedic center is the warm weather outdoors.

"Kids get out of the apartments to the playgrounds, onto jungle gyms and slides, onto bikes," said Dr. David Roye, of Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital.

And on one warm weather holiday, Memorial Day, more kids get injured than at other times, says the study.

Pediatrician Dr. Patricia Hametz is an expert in childhood injuries. She agrees with the study that most kids' injuries are minor, but says that supervision of kids at play is critical.

"It's important for parents to be aware of the environment in which kids are playing,," she said. "If they're in a playground, to make sure that equipment is in good condition, that the safety mat is in good condition."

And also make sure that there are no hazards in the play area. Helmets are a must for kids on wheels, and elbow and knee guards too.

Because the injuries that occur on holidays are everyday injuries, not holiday-specific, such as firework-related accidents, parent have to keep their eyes open for risky play, especially at those times. Though small children have the most accidents, parents should remember to caution teens against reckless behavior.