HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Lazy days at the pool, riding bikes around the neighborhood, catching fireflies after dark - summer can be full of fun for children. Unfortunately, the season also brings its own set of dangers. Many hospitals report seeing an increase in pediatric emergency room visits during the warmer months. While that doesn't mean children should be locked up indoors until school resumes, health experts say parents should take certain precautions.
At Huntsville Hospital, pediatric nurse Danielle Armstrong says water-related incidents, bike injuries and heat-related illnesses are among the biggest summer health issues she sees. When it comes to the water, Armstrong says it's important parents not rely on arm flotation devices or pool noodles to keep their children safe. "Those are fun to play with, but they are not considered a safety feature to prevent drowning in children," she adds. Certified life vests are always a good choice.
Another smart choice? A properly fitting bike helmet with a securely tightened strap. Armstrong says, "fifty-percent of the children that we see with terrible brain injuries from bike accidents are actually from falls. It's not from being hit by a car."
Whether in the water or out, the possibility of heat-related illness also increases during the summer. Parents should make sunscreen, frequent breaks and plenty of water a priority for their children. As for whether a child is getting enough water, moms and dads should pay attention to bathroom breaks. A child that doesn't void his bladder as usual may be a child who is getting dehydrated.
For parents who wish to read more safety tips, Huntsville Hospital recommends the Safe Kids Coalition. The global organization is dedicated to preventing injuries in children. There are three coalitions in Alabama, including one in Huntsville. The website offers a wealth of safety information that may be found here.