It takes just a minute to prevent recreation-related injuries and make ourselves and communities safer. Though it’s not something people typically think about or plan for, the potential for injury is all around us. Each year, nearly 150,000 people die from injuries, and almost 30 million people are hurt seriously enough to go to the emergency room. Taking part in sports and recreation activities are an important part of a health and physically active lifestyle. However, poor training practices and not wearing the proper protective gear can place us at risk for injuries.
It is estimated that 75% of bicycle related fatalities among children could be prevented with a bicycle helmet. Any child through the age of 13 is required to wear a helmet. Although adults are not required to wear helmets, cycling accidents happen to all age groups. Wearing a bicycle helmet reduces the risk of head injury by as much as 85% and severe brain injury by as much as 88%. If you purchase a bike, particularly as a gift, make the helmet as part of the package deal. Making sure that your bicycle is in good working condition is the first step as well as a proper fit with your bicycle. Being familiar with your biking route will prevent many accidents as will watching for cars backing out of parking spaces. Reflective material, not only on your bicycle, but on your clothing can help motorists see you in the waning hours of daylight and even in the fog. Headlamps on the bike are also helpful.
Playground areas are great for children to exert their energy during the summer months. Proper playground equipment is vital. The area under and surrounding the playground should be covered in materials that would cushion falls, such as sand or mulch. Allowing your toddler to play on equipment that is too old for him will only invite falls and possibly injuries. Most playgrounds will have playgrounds for children age 2-12. Adult supervision is a must with playgrounds. Our county has many playgrounds throughout the county for young children. Falls are the most common playground injury, accounting for approximately 80% of all playground activities.
Organized sports such as baseball, football and soccer are very popular in our county. Many of these will require protective gear such as a mouthpiece, shin guards and face masks. Once again, make sure your child is in the appropriate age group and not because of their size. A four year old who is taller and more physically mature, is still a four year old when it comes to using motor skills and judgment in playing sports. Coaches should have training on children and youth sports to prevent injuries.
Adequate hydration before any sports in vital, especially in the summer months. Plain water is the best and while sports drinks offer many minerals for the active person, they may not be appropriate for younger children. Avoiding the hot mid-day sun is most important to avoid heat stroke and heat exhaustion. If at all possible, sports clothing should be made of materials that allow perspiration to escape, such as cotton clothing, whereas many of the manmade materials may hold heat in.
So as you prepare summertime fun, keep the above tips in mind to prevent play time injuries.
Additional National Health Week specials will run in the April 7-8 editions of the Point Pleasant Register.