The Medical Minute: Stay Safe Around the House this Summer

By Susan Rzucidlo, R.N.

Each of five major child injury hazards — motor vehicles, drowning, burns, falls and poison — can be found in the back yard or around your home during the summer. Riding mowers, inflatable pools, home playground equipment and even natural vegetation and sunlight require a few simple precautions for a fun and safe summer break.

All of the safety guidelines you apply to sports, playgrounds and swimming apply to those activities in your own back yard. For instance, an inflatable pool needs to be surrounded by a fence, just like any other pool. Another example: Home playground needs to be anchored on an appropriate surface just like equipment on a public playground.

Here are some other simple precautions you can take to ensure safe activities in the back yard:

– Install four-sided isolation fencing with self-closing and self-latching gates around pools and spas. Wading pools should be emptied after each use and stored upside down. Always actively supervise children around water.

– Be sure home playground equipment is age-appropriate and surrounded six feet in all directions by at least 12 inches of loose fill materials such as shredded rubber or wood chips. Grass and asphalt are not safe surfaces for equipment.

– Remove potential poisons from your yard, including poisonous plants, pesticides and pool chemicals. Teach kids not to handle or eat any part of a plant unless you know it is safe.

– Keep children away from the grill area while preheating and cooking and while the grill is cooling.

– Teach children not to disturb or feed any wild animals, no matter how harmless the animals may seem.

– Look all around vehicles in the driveway before backing up to make sure that no children or adults are behind the vehicle.

– Apply sunscreen rated SPF 15 or higher to your child’s exposed skin 15 to 30 minutes before going out, and reapply frequently. (It is possible to get a sunburn in cloudy conditions.)

– Make sure your child stays hydrated.

For more information on keeping you and your family safe at home, play and on the way, call the pediatric trauma program injury prevention line at 717-531-SAFE (7233).

Susan Rzucidlo, R.N., is coordinator of the Dauphin County Safe Kids Coalition and the pediatric trauma program nurse manager at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

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More Safety Info:

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  4. How to childproof your house
  5. Home alone? AVFD provides safety tips for summer latchkey kids


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