Leading into one of the busiest holiday weekends, Houston’s only Pediatric Level I trauma centers, Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and Texas Children’s Hospital, have aligned efforts with the Houston Fire Department – and other community partners – in an effort to raise awareness about the risks children face during the summer months.
Every summer, scores of children across the Houston region suffer needlessly from preventable tragedies. At an event hosted at HFD Station 8 today, experts addressed the disturbing rates of preventable injuries in Houston and provided critical safety tips for parents and caregivers to help keep their children safe this summer. Topics discussed included water safety, heatstroke and dehydration prevention, as well as fireworks safety.
As a reminder to all families, below are expert tips to help ensure your holiday weekend is both enjoyable and safe.
- Supervision is key: Never leave your kids alone in or around water.Keep young children within arm’s reach of an adult. Make sure older children swim with a partner every time.
- Swim lessons: Every child is different, so enroll children in swim lessons when they are ready. Consider their age, development and how often they are around water.
- Barriers: Install fences around home pools. A pool fence should surround all sides of the pool and be at least 4 feet tall with self-closing and self-latching gates.
- Kiddie pools: Empty wading pools, buckets, and other water containers after each use and store them upside down.
- CPR and rescue skills: Know what to do in an emergency. Learning CPR and basic rescue skills may help you save a child’s life.
- Other hazards: While most childhood drownings happen in swimming pools, children can drown in unusual conditions, including bathtubs and buckets of water. Childhood drownings often occur quickly and silently.
- Life jackets: Children should always wear life jackets and personal flotation devices, preferably ones that have been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Heatstroke and dehydration prevention
- Remember to ACT. In 2016 there have been 16 reported heatstroke related deaths in cars in the U.S., of which three occurred in Texas and two of those were from the Houston area.
- Avoid heatstroke-related injury or death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Make sure your car is locked when you are not in it to prevent children from getting in on their own.
- Create reminders by putting something you need at your final destination in the back of your car, next to your child.
- Take action. If you see a child alone in a car call 911.
- Protect your child’s skin from the sun. In addition to staying in the shade, limiting sun exposure during the peak intensity hours and dressing young children in lightweight clothing and hats, parents should frequently apply (and reapply) sunscreen with at least 15 SPF to their child’s skin. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
- Be sure your child is drinking plenty of fluids. Before and during any type of physical activity, children should be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids, such as cool water or sports drinks.
- Avoid playground equipment that’s directly exposed to the sun. In direct sunlight, playground equipment can heat up to temperatures in the triple digits. Severe burns can result from young children unknowingly exposing their skin to extremely hot playground equipment.
- Kids should never ignite or play with fireworks. Typically, the types of fireworks that cause the most injuries are firecrackers, sparklers and bottle rockets.
- Many mistakenly consider sparklers to be safe, but they can burn at extremely high temperatures (1,800°F to 3,000°F). The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s stats from the Fourth of July festivities in 2014 indicated sparklers were involved in a majority of fireworks-related injuries sustained by children under 5 years of age.
- Light/ignite fireworks in a clear, flat area away from houses, spectators, leaves and flammable materials. The person igniting the fireworks should wear non-flammable clothing, closed-toe shoes and safety glasses.
- Families should always be prepared for an emergency. Before lighting fireworks, always ensure a bucket of water or a hose is nearby – not only will water cool off spent sparklers and extinguish fireworks, but also douse any potential fires.