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Summer safety requires constant care for youth
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Hot weather, sunshine and long days without school invite young people outdoors, but play can turn dangerous if adults don't provide proper supervision.
According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, nearly 3 million children ages 14 and under are taken to emergency rooms each summer for serious injuries. More than 2,500 of these children die from their injuries.
Swimming pools and bicycles are popular with children during the summer. Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said adults should do what they can to ensure that children are safe while outside playing.
"Young children need to be supervised at all times," Davis said.
Unsupervised children on bicycles are common, but Davis said many of them don't know safety rules and should not be allowed on neighborhood roads alone.
"If kids are riding a bike, they need to know how to ride in the neighborhood," Davis said. "Ride with the traffic near the edge of the road, not in the middle of the road."
Children should also wear safety helmets whenever they are on bicycles. Manufactures make these helmets for all ages and sizes, even toddlers.
"The best way to teach children to wear their helmets and ride safely is for parents to model that behavior," Davis said.
She said children under the age of 8 should be supervised at all times when riding a bicycle in the neighborhood. This is especially true near busy streets.
"Make sure there's not a lot of traffic in the area where you're riding bikes and that neighbors are aware that your child will be out riding," Davis said. "Young kids are still developing their motor skills and may not be able to handle themselves properly on a bike."
Swimming pools are great ways to escape the heat, but pose significant danger to unattended children. Supervise all pool activities, even children playing in wading pools.
Davis said parents and babysitters should know cardiopulmonary resuscitation and basic first aid techniques so they can assist if an accident does happen.
"If you have a babysitter taking care of the children, the babysitter needs to have gone through a safety training course," Davis said. "The Red Cross teaches CPR, and many places such as county Extension offices and local hospitals offer good babysitting classes."
Too much sun poses a danger to youth from sunburn, overheating and dehydration. Consider preventing children from playing outside at all when weather is extremely hot. Early morning and late afternoon times are good times to be outside to avoid extreme temperatures.
Sandboxes are great places for kids to play, but should be kept covered. Wandering cats often use them as litter boxes, creating a health hazard for children playing in the sand. Just as helmets are important to ensure safety on a bicycle, so is proper safety equipment for all sports and activities children are involved in.
"Summer is a time for fun. Parents sometimes get more relaxed because schedules are less strenuous, but that doesn't mean they should be less diligent about the safety of their kids," Davis said.