The first day of spring is just two days away. As it slowly but surely makes its appearance here in Belleville, Ontario, it is the time of year when many of us including our children can’t wait to venture outdoors and enjoy the warm weather. While summer is often referred to as trauma season, spring poses its share of risk for traumatic brain injury.
Please take a few minutes to review the following safety tips to avoid brain injury this spring.
What can you do to make sure you play safe?
Bike Helmet Safety
In Canada around 7,500 cyclists are seriously injured every year. Head injuries rank among the most severe injuries in bicycle accidents, representing 20% to 40% of all bicycling injuries encountered in Canada.
You can protect yourself from the risk of brain injury by always wearing a bike helmet. A 2002 survey by Safe Kids Canada showed that only 45% of children 11 to 14 years of age wore bike helmets. While the law in Ontario does not require an adult to wear a helmet when cycling, you should wear a helmet as well as insure your child(ren) wear one.
You should also wear a helmet when using a skateboard, rollerblades or scooter. A properly fitted helmet protects the head by absorbing the force from a crash or fall, decreasing the risk of traumatic brain injury by as much as 85-88%.
Appropriate headgear should also be warn when riding a horse, and when playing spring sports like baseball or softball.
Are trampolines safe?
A trampoline might provide your child with hours of fun, but research shows that about one in 200 trampoline injuries leads to permanent neurological damage. If you insist on your child(ren) using a trampoline please insure you supervise and only one person should be on the trampoline at a time. Children using a trampoline should be six years or older.
How safe are bounce houses?
The pattern of injuries from inflatable bouncers is similar to injuries sustained from trampoline use. You can help prevent injury by making sure the operator is supervising at all times. It’s best that children who are using the bouncer are about the same size.
According to CDC (Centers for disease control and prevention) falls account for more than 75% of all playground-related injuries. Despite improvements in playground design and safety an average of 21,000 playground-related traumatic brain injuries are treated in emergency rooms annually among kids 14 and younger. While I don’t discourage, playgrounds use parental supervision is crucial and parents should inspect playgrounds and insure children are playing on equipment appropriate for their age. Before you send the kids out to play in the backyard this spring, ensure your home playground is safe as well.
ATV use is the leading cause of moderate to severe TBIs. According to a report published by Ontario Injury Compass, on average, more than 15 people are seen in Ontario emergency departments for injuries related to ATV accidents. Before heading out on the trails, please remember to wear a helmet. Inspect the condition of your ATV before each ride. If you are a new rider I highly recommend that you take an ATV safety course and learn to ride from an expert. The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends youth under 16 should not be permitted to operate off-road vehicles at all, even ones that are marketed as “child-sized.”
Car Seat Safety
Make sure your child is riding in the appropriate car seat or booster seat. .It is estimated that 44% to 81% of car seats are not used correctly. A 2012 analysis from the Canadian Paediatric Society of child passengers sustaining a severe car related injuries revealed that 92% of infants, 74% of toddlers and 96% of school-aged children were not restrained appropriately at the time of accident.
Falls are one of the leading causes of brain injury in your children. With the nice weather coming we will be opening our windows. Home safety devices, such as guards on windows will prevent an active child from taking a dangerous fall out a window. Window screens do not prevent falls . They can come loose and cannot withstand the weight of your child. To help reduce the risk of head injuries to children, block off stairways with safety gates.
When hiking, make sure you are familiar with the terrain. When out hiking always ensure that a loved one knows exactly where you are and how to find you.
Traumatic brain injuries can happen to anyone. Every day, 452 people will experience a brain injury. That is equivalent to one person every three minutes.
Thirty percent of brain injuries in Canada are suffered by children and youth. Traumatic brain injury can not be cured, but you can take steps to prevent it from occurring.
Know the signs and symptoms of a concussion. Some of these symptoms include a headache, blurred or double vision, appearing dazed or stunned, shows mood changes, loses consciousness (Even briefly.)