More from U.S. News's conversations with Marie Lozon, division director of pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Michigan Health System, and Chrissy Cianflone, director of program operations at Safe Kids USA:
Burns. Fireworks, barbeques, campfires, and fire pits are all integral parts of summer. Parents just need to keep the heat away from the kids. "People don't respect fire the way they should," says Lozon, who sees plenty of toddlers with burns on their chests, legs, and faces. In many cases, the fire had gone out, which perhaps led to adults letting down their guard, and a child stumbled into the white ashes, which remain searing hot. Another common injury Lozon's emergency department gets this time of year results from kids spraying lighter fluid into the barbeque. The fire can light the arc of fluid all the way up to the container, which can explode in the hand.
And of course, the Fourth of July is notorious for injuries related to fireworks. According to the CDC, a third of individuals injured by fireworks are under the age of 15. One of the most common such injuries Lozon sees is when the fuse on a firework is lit incorrectly—or doesn't appear to catch—and someone goes back to re-light or fiddle with it. The firework explodes and fingers are blown off or the face, eyes, or head gets burned.
Falls. They're the leading cause of nonfatal unintended injury to children year-round, bringing about 8,000 kids into the ER daily, says the CDC. And fall-related deaths spike in the summer, up 21 percent over the average during the rest of the year, according to Safe Kids. Warm temperatures mean more open windows, more time on the jungle gym, and more kids hanging out on balconies or fire escapes.
There are two easy ways to prevent children from falling, says Cianflone: supervision and window guards. Exploring, climbing, touching, pushing, and grasping at the world around them is how children grow and develop, she says, so risk can't be completely eliminated. But watching kids and removing the hazards in their environment can help prevent a mishap. Keep furniture (including the baby's changing table) away from windows, install bars or a childproof gate on windows, and don't allow kids to play on balconies or roofs.
Going to the playground has its perils, too. On an annual basis, kids 14 or younger make 200,000 visits to the emergency departments in the United States because of playground accidents, according to the CDC. A few precautions can keep kids safe. To avoid trips and lost balance (and heads banged painfully into pieces of metal equipment), ditch the Crocs and flip-flops in favor of sneakers with adequate rubber on the soles, says Cianflone. As with adult supervision around the pool, says Cianflone, adult eyes focused on kids on the playground equipment is key.
Accidental strangulation. Keep your kids from wearing hooded sweatshirts or anything dangling around their necks on the playground—it's a strangulation hazard if it gets caught in a piece of equipment. In fact, strangulation caused about 56 percent of the 147 playground-related deaths between 1990 and 2000; falls accounted for 20 percent, says the CDC.
Trampoline injuries. Just like swimming pools, trampolines get uncovered during the summer months. Their power to injure needs to be heeded. "It's a physics lesson," says Lozon. "You've got motion, height, and bodies colliding." Heads smash together, ankles and elbows get stuck between the springs and the rim of the equipment, bones break, and bodies get launched off the trampoline. A recent study in the British Medical Journal found that the risk of injury increases with the number of bouncers. If a trampoline is a must for your family, Lozon suggests getting one with safety walls and coverings over the springs. Allow only one bouncer at a time, she says.