Splash Into Summer!
Loyola University Burn and Shock Trauma Institute,
Injury Prevention Program
The smell of the warm humid air and the bright skies offer more
pleasures than any other season. Summer lures us outdoors to
swimming pools, beaches and parks. It captivates us, even those
who claim they hate summer for it's hot weather can't help but
welcome it's arrival. But, summer also has a dark side, more
unintentional injuries occur during these months than any other
season. Children are most at risk during the warmer months.
This month Break
Point is focusing on fireworks safety, swimming pool safety and
boating safety. To make you aware of the obvious dangers is not
enough. To keep you and your family safe, it is important to alert
you to the hidden dangers related to warm weather activities.
Break Point is produced by Loyola University, Burn and Shock
Trauma Institute Injury Prevention Program. Please call us at
(708) 327-2455 or email to: Kathy
O'Day with any comments or questions.
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Supervision the Essential Ingredient for Pool Safety
When the weather
heats up, the best place to be is poolside. The combination of
the heat and the cool water lifts our spirits and cools us off.
Watching the faces of giggling children in the water puts smiles
on our faces. Pools are also dangerous. So dangerous that
according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety commission, 300
children under age 5 and 2000 more children visit hospital
emergency departments for submersion injuries each year.
Toddlers are most at risk because of their ever-changing
capabilities. A toddler can drown in just 2 inches of water!
Even if you have placed barriers or fences around your pool,
have had your children take swimming lessons or even provide
flotation devices for your children, unintentional injuries
still do occur. These are just tools but they do not replace
constant vigilant supervision of children when they are around
water. According to the CPSC, most children were being
supervised by one or both parents and were not expected to be at
or in the pool, yet they were found in the water. A child can
drown in the short time it takes to answer the phone.
on discovering the submersed child quickly. Here are some
additional safety device recommendations to increase safety
around the pool:
- Install a fence or other barrier, such as a wall,
completely around the pool. The fence should be at least 4
foot high and have no foot or handholds that promote
climbing. Vertical fence slats should be less than 4 inches
apart to prevent a child from squeezing through. Fence gates
should be self-closing and self-latching. The gate should be
well maintained to close and latch easily. The latch should
be out of the child's reach.
- Pool motion alarms emit a shrill sound when someone falls
into the pool, or when the pressure of the water changes or
when movement in the water is sensed. There are also
installing gate alarms or door alarms alert the caregivers
when the child has either left the house or is near the
- Pool covers can also be a safety device. They should be
able to withstand the weight of two adults and one child and
meet other specifications outlined by the CPSC.
- Call 911 for emergencies and don't attempt to rescue if
you can't swim.
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Kids and Wading Pools
do not have access to an in-ground or above ground pool. Many
families buy small pools made especially for young children.
These pools provide fun and a place to cool off. These types
of pools pose the same dangers as larger pools. The pool may
be filled with water in the morning and left up for one or two
days. There are no safety devices for these types of pools.
In-ground pools can be walled off or special alarms can be
placed to notify an adult a child has fallen into the pool.
Above ground pools can have folding ladders to deter a child
from entering the pool. Wading pools are also small enough for
very young children to swim in. This eliminates the fear
associated with the larger pool allowing the child to think it
is OK to jump in without supervision. A parent or caregiver
should treat wading pools the same way they would treat
children around an Olympic sized pool.
Here are some
tips to keep the fun in the water no matter what size the pool
- Constant supervision of children in and out of the
water! Make sure the adult who is watching the children is
a good swimmer.
- Have a designated "child watcher". Especially
at parties when adults can get distracted in conversation
and there is an increased noise level.
- Keep a cordless phone handy. This will save precious
time in case of emergencies.
- Do not read books or talk on the phone by the pool while
the children are swimming. Most drownings happen during
momentary lapses in supervision.
- Do not rely on your child's swimming ability. Even
children who have taken swimming lessons can drown.
- Learn CPR. Quick initiation of rescue breathing can
prevent death or brain damage.
- Know where your children are at all times in and out of
the house if a wading pool is filled with water.
Statistics show that 46% of children who have drowned were
last seen in the house and less than 5 minutes prior to
- Insist the children follow the pool safety rules: no
running, pushing or dunking.
- Do not let children dive into a pool. They are to enter
the water feet first to prevent head and spinal cord
- Don't develop a false sense of security with water wings
and other flotation devices. They are not a substitute for
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Operating a Personal Watercraft
popularity of Personal watercraft (PWC) use has been
established in recent years by the fact that over half of
the new boat sales in the U.S. are PWCs. There has been an
increase of over 400% in PWC use in the past six years. This
explosive growth has lead overcrowding on the waterways
which correlates with the increase in PWC related crashes.
Some of the
reasons that PWCs have a higher percentage of crashes and
injuries than other boats; is that PWC users operate their
crafts for longer hours during the day and are on the water
more days per season than motorboats.
carelessly operated PWCs present the potential for serious
crashes and injury not only to the operator but also to the
passengers, swimmers and other boaters they come in contact
A PWC should be fun and safe. Before going out on the
water you should:
- Wear your personal flotation device (PFD). Law
requires an approved PFD for the operator and any
- Know your craft. Study your owner's manual and
practice handling your craft under supervision in open
water away from other boaters.ad.
- Take a boating safety course. Learn the common
boating rules, regulations and safe practices.
- Ride defensively. Collisions with other boats
or stationary objects like rafts or docks are the number
one cause of personal watercraft injuries.
- Watch the weather. Check the forecast before
starting out. Be alert for any weather changes.
- Know the area. Do not assume the water is clear
of obstructions. Stay on marked channels.
- Carry safety equipment. Besides an approved
PFD, you should have a sound-signaling device (like a
whistle), a towrope and some type B flares in a
- Never operate a PWC without the safety lanyard
attached to you. The lanyard immediately cuts the
engine if the operator falls.
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BAC .0 the Safest Way on the Waterways
owners are taking their boats out of dry dock and are
eager get on the water. This is especially true in Chicago
where the avid boater has the occasional view of Lake
Michigan during the winter months and longs for warmer
weather. Unless you are a true landlubber, boating is a
treat in the summer months. Unfortunately, waterways are
second only to highways when it comes to unintentional
a major contributing factor in recreational boating
casualties. Someone operating a boat with a blood alcohol
concentration (BAC) above .10 is ten times more likely to
be killed in a boat crash than a boater with no alcohol on
board. Alcohol impairs your vision, balance, your sense of
judgment. Research has shown that alcohol combined with
sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion can impair a
person faster than alcohol consumption on land.
alcohol also increases the onset of hypothermia if a
person in immersed in water .If you plan to drink while
operating your boat, remember it is against the law, and
your boating license can be revoked. There are also the
passengers who ride with you. Drinking while driving
directly affects the safety of everyone around the water.
about these safety tips before you plan to operate your
- Never drink while operating your boat. Save the
cocktails for when you are finished boating and you do
not plan to drive home.
- Wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD)/ even if you
are a good swimmer. No matter how experienced,
swimmers can get tired in the water if there is a
prolonged time before rescue.
- Make sure everyone on the boat wears a PFD.
- Do not boat alone. Tell others where you are
planning to go when you are leaving and when you plan
- Check the forecast before you go on the water and
bring a radio to check the weather reports.
- Don't overload the boat with too many passengers or
- Take a boating safety course to learn the rules of
- It is safest to boat during daylight hours.
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Grilling Up a Good Time this Summer
something about the smell of a hot grill that seems to
whet the appetite. Cookouts are great fun. The word
cookout is synonymous with party and good times. On a
hot summer day, cooking on the grill is the only way to
get a hot meal without heating your nicely air
grill master grills in the winter even if there is cold
and snow. Most people wait until the first hint of
warmer weather. Unfortunately, hundreds of fires are
caused each year by careless grilling.
use a barbecue grill, use common sense and follow these
- Be sure the grill is sturdy and is on flat ground.
- Use heavy aprons and thick grilling mitts to
prevent burns and to protect your clothing.
- Do not leave hot embers in your grill. Douse the
coals with water when finished grilling.
- Never barbecue in a confined space.
- Never use gasoline, kerosene, alcohol or a
cigarette lighter to light the coals.
- Never leave a grill unattended once the coals are
- Never discard coals in a combustible container.
- If using a gas grill, open the lid before
attempting to light the burner.
- Transport, store and use propane gas cylinders in
an upright position.
- Grill masters should quench their thirst with
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Lighting the Sky with Fireworks Safely
Fireworks are as common to the 4th of July as
hamburgers are to a cookout. Every year families plan
to watch fireworks displays at local townships. Others
plan to have fireworks at home as a special wrap up to
a 4th of July party. This is the time of year when we
begin to see makeshift fireworks shops advertising
"safe and legal" fireworks. The only safe
fireworks are those ignited by licensed professionals
at displays sanctioned by local authorities.
Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC)
estimates for 1998 show that 8,500 people were treated
in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated
with fireworks. 55% of those treated were for burn
injuries mainly to the hands, face and eyes. Nearly
half of the victims were under the age of fifteen.
Most of burn injuries were from the use of
firecrackers, bottle rockets and sparklers. Many
people think that sparklers are safe and give them to
young children to hold. Sparklers can heat up to 1800
degrees F, hot enough to melt gold! Often the adult
has a full hand of sparklers and is lighting the
sparklers with another. This is a dangerous
combination. The other sparklers can ignite and cause
Bottle rockets and firecrackers are very dangerous.
They are unpredictable and can misfire causing burns
to hands, face and eyes. They can also cause fires if
they land in an area with combustible materials.
The most dangerous of fireworks are the illegal or
homemade fireworks. They also cause the most injury.
Last year, the Trauma Team at Loyola treated a
19-year-old woman with severe injuries to her face
from a homemade explosive, which was thrown at her at
a party. She underwent several surgeries and the day
changed her life forever. Homemade fireworks are
explosives! They are illegal in Illinois and are
deadly! You can have fun and be safe on the 4th of
July. If you plan to use fireworks, follow these
- Never attempt to ignite fireworks while holding
them. Put them down, then ignite them and move
- Use metal or glass containers to light
fireworks, they could explode spraying the
bystanders with shards of glass or shrapnel.
- Never try to re-ignite fireworks that
- Don't stand over fireworks.
- Never let children hold or light fireworks.
- Never carry fireworks in your pocket
- Do not delay medical attention for seemingly
mild injuries. Injuries can worsen and result in
serious vision loss and even blindness.
- Never approach fireworks after it has been lit,
even if it appears to have gone out. It is likely
to still be excessively hot and it may explode
- Never throw fireworks at anyone!
Consider safe alternatives for your 4th of July
celebration. Attend community fireworks displays
handled by professionals. If you choose to have
fireworks at your party here are some safe
- Help your children plan safe activities. Give
them glow-in-the-dark wands or necklaces. Noise
makers for children are a safe alternative to
- Teach your children about the dangers of
fireworks. Have your children to notify an adult
immediately if they find fireworks. The best way
to teach children is by example. Don't use
- Keep spectators at least 50 feet away from where
the fireworks are being used.
- Do stay calm in case of emergencies. Keep the
injured person calm. Call 911.
The Injury Prevention staff wishes all a happy and
safe 4th of July.
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Coming Next Month in Injury Prevention
- Fireworks Safety Month
- Vacation Safety
- Summertime Safety
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