Spring break can be a fun time, but can also be dangerous time for kids. Patrick Mularoni, M.D., from Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, gives parents some tips to help keep their kids safe during spring break season.
Are there injuries that seem to increase in the spring?
An injury that we see often in the Emergency Center but more often when people travel is injuries to the fingers. Little kids love to play chasing games and hiding games where they can hurt their fingers. Often when kids are staying in a new environment like a hotel room, a family member’s house or a beach rental they are going to want to explore their environment. One of the things I see spike this time of year is children getting their fingers caught in doors. It’s usually one of two scenarios. The first is that the child is attempting to get on a balcony and the slider door gets closed on their fingers, and the second is an older sibling slamming a door and not knowing that a young child has his or her hand near the door hinges.
One thing that I suggest that all parents do is warn children—especially preschool children—about the dangers of the hinge side of the door. Not the side with the handle but the hinge side. If your kids will not stop slamming doors in the house, you can use a pencil or a carrot as an example to show them how a slamming door can hurt or even amputate a child’s finger if it gets pinched on that hinge side. Although it’s graphic, it will help older siblings understand the risk of slamming doors to keep little ones out.
When many of us think about a slow-moving golf cart, it seems like a safe mode of transportation. A new study has shown that golf carts are quite dangerous and can lead to serious injuries in children.
This study describes the experience of a trauma center in Tennessee from 2008-2016. This is something that we are seeing here at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital as well. There are a few reasons why we are seeing so many injuries. The first is that children are often driving the carts before they actually possess a driver’s license. This leads to erratic driving and can even lead to accidents where the cart rolls over. The other situation is the position of the seats. People in the back seat are typically facing backward so they cannot anticipate turns or quick stops leading to them being thrown from the cart. Although some golf carts have seatbelts, they unfortunately are seldom used. Golf cart use on roads is becoming much more popular and many people in Florida are turning to this form of transportation because it’s enjoyable and most run on electricity rather than gas. We all know that all-terrain vehicles are dangerous, but we also have to think about golf carts similarly. For families that have golf carts, you should make sure that now that spring is upon us and possibly family visiting, you should keep the driving to adults and really consider using seatbelts to help protect passengers.
We should also talk about sun exposure. This is a great time of year for all of us and most kids are going to be outside playing in the Florida sun. How much sun is too much and if they get burned what do you do?
Everything needs to be done in moderation. And every kid is different. I have three children and the two oldest can spend the day at the beach without burning, but my youngest gets burned in a half of an hour. My suggestions for sunny summer days:
- Make sure that you take breaks in the shade. Lunch is a good time for a break
- Only purchase sunscreen that is broad spectrum and SPF 50 or above and apply it before going out to in the sun.
- For those kids who are sunburn prone, purchase long sleeve sun shirts that have UV protection.
- Reapply, reapply, reapply at least every 60-90 minutes. You are going to have to be more serious about this in the spring than you would in the summer because most kids have not spent as much time in the sun over our winter months as they will this time of year.
Now if your child does get burned, make them comfortable with ibuprofen, use aloe to soothe the burn and stay out of the sun until the burn has fully healed.
This information was shared on WTVT-TV’s Doc on Call segment, which is aimed at helping parents learn more about children’s health issues. The segment airs each Monday morning on Good Day Tampa Bay.