Break Point!

Volume 4, Issue 7 View the Archives July, 2001
Break Point Splashes Into Summer Safety
Safety Experiencing the Great Outdoors
Making a Splash With Water Safety
Lawn Mowers May Be Hazardous To Your Child's Health
Never Leave Your Child Alone

Break Point Splashes Into Summer Safety

Kathy O'Day
Loyola University Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Injury Prevention Program

Summer is the season to spend outdoors and enjoy the warm weather. Many families spend the time outside camping or hiking. Other families spend their time at pools, water parks or swimming in nearby lakes.

However your family likes to enjoy the outdoors, remember that in summer there is a sharp increase in the numbers of unintentional injuries.

According to a survey completed by the National SafeKids Campaign, 50% of all injuries to children occur in the summer months.

Remember, as you prepare to go on vacation don't let safety and caution take a break.

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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Safety Experiencing the Great Outdoors

Camping can be an inexpensive way to vacation. It can also be a way to get away from daily pressures and get back to nature. Whether you are an experienced camper or a novice, fire safety while camping is essential. Thousands of acres of woodlands are burned each year as a result of careless behavior. For years we have seen Smoky the Bear telling us how to prevent forest fires. Many people are burned each year due to carelessness around campfires. When starting your trip keep in mind a few fire safety tips:

  • Keep your tent away from your campfire. Pitch your tent upwind.
  • Make sure the tent is made of flame-retardant fabric. Most of the newer tent materials are flame resistant however, a tent that is older or has not been used for awhile could easily catch on fire.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended. Sudden gusts of wind could come up while you are away and spread the fire.
  • Build your campfire a safe distance from your campsite, away from hanging branches, steep slopes, rotten stumps or logs, dry grass and leaves.
  • When camping in state or county parks be aware of the local laws and regulations regarding open fires. Campfires are often allowed in designated areas only.
  • Drown the campfire with water. Make sure all embers; coals and sticks are wet. Make sure the fire is completely extinguished. Cover the fire with water and then with dirt. Many burn injuries sustained by campers are a result from campers stepping into or falling onto the hot embers in the dark.

A flame or any other heating device should never be used inside a tent. Use a battery-operated device to provide light.

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Making a Splash With Water Safety

When the temperature outdoors increases, so do submersion injuries and drownings. Two deaths have made headlines recently, a 4 year old child attending a birthday party at a famous musicians home and a 2 year old child drowning at a public pool in Orland Park.

Each year, nationwide, more than 300 children under 5 years old drown in residential swimming pools, usually a pool owned by their family. In addition, more than 2,000 children in that age group are treated in hospital emergency departments for submersion injures.

Medical costs for submersion victims during the initial hospitalization alone can be quite high. Costs can range from an estimated $2,000 for a victim who recovers fully to $80,000 for a victim with severe brain damage. Some severely brain damaged victims have initial hospital stays in excess of 120 days and expenses in excess of $150,000.

Think about the following objects that could lead to a drowning in or around your home:

  • Pools and spas
  • Water on pool covers
  • Wading pools
  • Baths
  • Buckets of water
  • Toilets
  • Rivers or dams
  • Outdoor ponds

Always remember even if your child can swim well they are not immune to the hazards around water. Close supervision is the key to having fun in a pool.

Think about the following strategies for dealing with water hazards for children:


  • Telephone calls, either incoming or outgoing.
  • Doorbells
  • Something cooking, overheating on the stove.
  • The laundry you have to remove or fold.
  • Another child making a mess, crying or falling down.
  • Other children engaging in horseplay in or around the pool.
  • The other child's diaper you need to change.
  • The other child you have to give a bottle to.
  • The other child you are feeding.
  • The pet that wants to go out or come in the house.

Here are some other tips to protect your children around water:

  • Take the child with you if you answer the phone at bath time.
  • Buckets and pails should have a firm lid and be stored up high.
  • Indoor spas should have a lockable door and be emptied immediately after use. Outdoor spas should be fenced the same as swimming pools.
  • Empty wading pools immediately after use.

With empty wading pools, wheelbarrows, pails, etc., turn them over or stand them up so rainwater can't collect in them.

Don't allow any water to stand on a pool cover. A person can slide into the center and the water will pool, quickly reaching 7-10 inches in depth. Algae quickly grows on a wet cover, making it extremely slick.

  • Even an adult can get caught under a pool cover, become disoriented and drown.
  • Cover post holes or trenches during construction.
  • Cover outdoor ponds with a fixed grid cover.
  • After heavy rain, check your yard and empty any rain that collects in containers.
  • Remember that flotation aids are not lifesaving devices. Stay with your child when swimming in the pool.
  • Learn how to give resuscitation or take a refresher course. In an emergency, take the child to the phone and call 911 or the local emergency number in your community. Directions for CPR may be given to you over the phone.
  • When visiting, ask about any drowning hazards. Many children have drowned at friends' homes because their parents didn't know there was a pool, spa or pond on the property.
  • While entertaining, make sure there is a responsible adult to monitor activities in and around the pool. The adult that supervises the children should refrain from alcohol.
  • Avoid alcohol while swimming it slows your reaction time and impairs your judgment.

In case of an emergency be sure to have the following phone numbers available

  • EMS (Emergency Medical Services)-911
  • Ambulance
  • Fire Department/Police Department
  • Local Hospital Emergency Department
  • Family Doctor
  • Neighbor with a car

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Lawn Mowers May Be Hazardous To Your Child's Health

When school's out for the summer, you may be relieved to pass on the task of lawn mowing to your teen or child. But according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 14% of all lawn mower-related injuries affect children and teens younger than 18 years.

Of the 68,000 lawn mower-related injuries that occur annually, 9,400 involve children. Twenty-four percent of pediatric injuries occur in children younger than 5 years; 36% of injuries occur in 5-to 12-year-olds; and 40% occur in 13- to 17-year-olds. Seven percent of childhood lawn mower-related injuries require hospitalization.

Common lawn mower-related injuries include lacerations (cuts), sprains, strains, contusions (bruises), abrasions (scrapes), burns, fractures, dislocations, and amputations. The AAP cited ride-on mowers (including riding mowers, lawn tractors, and garden tractors) as more dangerous than walk-behind mowers; 20% of injuries from ride-on mowers occurred in children 15 years or younger and 12% of these children required hospitalization. Injuries from ride-on mowers happened when the mowers were in use, were being repaired or maintained, were being loaded or unloaded, or when they were played on when not in use. A 1993 report the Consumer Products Safety Commission identified other key reasons for mower injuries, including loss of mower stability (tipping over) and backing over a child. In 85% of the cases in which children were backed over, the children were 15 months to 10 years old and were injured or killed when they were playing in the area being mowed, or when they jumped on or fell off the mower.

Lawn mower-related injuries may cause severe injuries or even death in children and teens. The AAP recommends that children should not operate lawn mowers until they have displayed appropriate levels of judgment, strength, coordination, and maturity, and have received training and safety instruction. To prevent injuries, don't allow younger children to play in areas being mowed, to ride on the mower while it is in operation, or to play on a mower in storage.

Source: Pediatrics, June 2001

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Never Leave Your Child Alone

From 1996 through 2000, more than 120 children-most of them three and younger-died from heat stroke after being trapped in a vehicle's passenger compartment. Research conducted by General Motors revealed that these children were left behind in a closed, parked car by parents or caregivers, or that they gained access to the car on their own and could not get out.

This is a serious public health issue, and one that is entirely preventable.

Parents may mistakenly think that they can safely leave a child in a vehicle seat for a "quick" errand. Unfortunately, a delay of just a few minutes can lead to tragedy.

Heat is much more dangerous to children that is to adults. When left in a hot vehicle, a young child's core body temperature may increase three to five times faster than that of an adult. This could cause permanent injury or even death.

When the temperature outside is at 80 degrees, the car's interior temperatures can reach dangerous levels in just minutes. The interior of a car on a hot day in the sun can rise to over 130 degrees.

Here are some tips to keep your children safe:

  • Teach children not to play in, on or around cars.
  • Never leave a child unattended in a motor vehicle, even with a window slightly open. This applies to pets as well.
  • Always lock car doors and trunks (even at home) and keep keys out of children's reach.
  • Watch children closely around cars, particularly when loading or unloading.
  • Check to ensure that all children leave the
  • Check your car's owners manual to see if it can be equipped with a trap resistant trunk kit at your nearest dealer.
  • When restraining children in a car that has been parked in the heat, check to make sure seating surfaces and equipment (car seat and seat belt buckles) aren't overly hot.
  • Secure children correctly every time you drive.
  • For more information contact

This article has been reprinted from the National SafeKids Campaign and General Motors.

The information on the Loyola University Health System (LUHS) Web site is for educational purposes only. It is presented in summary form in order to impart general information relating to certain diseases, ailments, physical conditions and their treatments. The information provided through the LUHS Web site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease, nor is it a substitute for professional care. Should you have any health-care related questions or suspect you have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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