While you may think of summer as the start of lazy days in the sun, emergency room doctors are gearing up for what some refer to as the summer trauma season. To make sure your summer isn’t spent visiting your local ER, remember these tips from Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council.
- Consider the worst-case scenario. Nobody wants to do this, but it’s the only way to be prepared. “It’s really important to think, ‘If a young child is outside playing on playground equipment and falls, how would my caregiver respond to that?’ ” Appy says. “If it’s a young teen, are you sure he/she can make all the right decisions immediately? This can make a difference between life and death.” Teach kids how and when to use 911 and help them memorize their address to give to the dispatchers. Post the number for poison control: (800) 222-1222.
- Do what you can to keep the worst-case scenarios from happening. Make sure backyard equipment has 12 inches of soft surfacing below it and keep baby gates at the top and bottom of all stairs. Store the gasoline and oil for the lawn mower, as well as other lawn care products and poisons, in a secure location where kids can’t get into them.
- If you have a backyard pool, fence it all the way around, including the side that faces the patio or deck. The fence should be mesh or some other type that doesn’t allow little feet to climb over, and should always be locked with a key that is hidden in a place where kids can’t find it. Don’t install a combination lock-sometimes in emergencies, people panic and forget the combination. Know CPR and have rescue equipment and a phone nearby at all times.
- Think twice about leaving kids home alone. The maturity to think, “If this happens, then I do this,” doesn’t occur until children are in their teens, Appy says. “That’s why leaving a child in the care of a 10-year-old, as mature as she may seem, we just can’t count on them to have the wherewithal to deal with emergency situations.” If possible, consider sharing child care responsibilities with a neighbor or friend.