SATURDAY, July 24, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Falls, bicycle crashes, burns, motorized vehicle accidents and near-drownings are the leading causes of hospitalization for American children during the summer, experts say.
These types of incidents are both predictable and preventable, according to Dr. Kathy Nuss, associate medical director of trauma services at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues.
Falls consistently top the list of causes of summertime injuries suffered by children. While objects such as trampolines are widely recognized as dangerous, children often suffer injuries from things considered much safer by parents, Nuss noted in a news release from the hospital.
"We see a lot of kids falling from playground equipment during the summer months. If possible, find playgrounds that are spread with mulch or shredded tire; these surfaces add more cushion versus concrete or blacktop," Nuss said the news release.
Bicycles are another major cause of injury. Nearly 400,000 children younger than 19 are treated at hospital emergency departments each year for bicycle-related injuries, according to the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's. Injuries to the arms and legs are the most common, but head injuries are the most serious.
Nuss said children should always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, use hand signals, and walk the bicycle across busy streets and intersections. Parents need to make sure the bike's seat and handlebars fit the child.
The types of burn injuries suffered by children vary by age. Older children more often suffer flash burns, which result from direct contact with flames, such as campfires or fireworks. Younger children are more prone to scald burns, which can be caused by hot water or by pulling hot food off a counter.
Parents should keep hot foods and beverages away from the edges of tables or countertops, and supervise older children when they're using fireworks or near a campfire, advised Nuss, who is also an associate professor of pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine.
Many children are attracted to motorized vehicles such as cars, scooters, golf carts and ATVs. Parental supervision is the key to preventing injuries from these dangers, safety experts say.
Drownings and near-drownings often occur in backyard swimming pools or landscape ponds, but can also occur in just a few inches of water. Parents should always practice touch supervision, meaning they need to be close enough to reach out to a child at any time. Children should always wear an approved flotation device when in a pool and parents should be certified in CPR.
"While it may be difficult to avoid these common summer injuries, it's important for parents to keep a close eye on their kids this summer," Nuss said.
The Nemours Foundation offers parents safety and first aid tips.