Mother Nature isn’t the only one who goes a little crazy in the spring. Family life gets a bit more hectic, too. Between the increase in daylight hours, a wide variety of sports and after school activities and a few holiday breaks thrown in for good measure, spring can be a challenging time to keep your family safe and healthy. So stick with us, because we’ve got your bases covered.
Wrestling, basketball, soccer, tennis, golf, track and field, softball and baseball are just some of the activity choices your kids have in spring. Sports promote physical fitness, self-confidence and team-building skills, but each one also comes with its own set of risks.
Every year, more than 2.6 million children end up in emergency rooms with sports-related injuries, including broken bones and torn ligaments, bumps and bruises, concussions, eye injuries, heat-related injuries, scrapes and scratches and sprains and strains.
To help make sure your kids aren’t among those injured, follow these general sports safety tips.
- Use proper equipment. Equipment and safety gear should be in good condition and approved by the organizations that govern each sport.
- Inspect practice and competition areas. They should be free of holes, ruts and debris. High-impact sports should be done on forgiving surfaces, such as grass, synthetic rubber or wood, rather than concrete.
- Insist on qualified adult supervision. The team coach should be trained in first aid and CPR, and all adults should place a high priority on safety.
- Make sure your child is prepared. In addition to understanding the rules of the game and how to warm up and train, kids need adequate rest, proper nutrition and plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Heat-related illnesses, including dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke, are among the most common sports injuries — especially in hot spots like Texas.
When should you take your child to the ER with an orthopedic injury?
Most sports injuries can be treated with RICE — rest, ice, compression and elevation. If an injury affects your child’s basic functioning in any way — he can’t bend his wrist, is limping, or has symptoms of a concussion — administer basic first aid and then see a doctor. For more serious injuries, take your child to the nearest ER.
Corey Gill, MD, Medical Director of the Pediatric Orthopedics Program at Medical City Children’s Hospital, discusses when a child should go to the ER with an orthopedic injury or possible broken bone.
Jump in – the water’s fine.
Swimming and diving are also popular spring sports. Swimming can be a lifelong activity and a great, low-impact way to stay fit. Consider signing your kids up for swimming lessons as soon as appropriate so that they become comfortable around water and know what to do if they get in trouble. Here’s why:
- Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children 1 to 4 years old
- Most drownings in children 1-4 years old occur in home swimming pools
- Among children 5-14 years old, accidental death by drowning is second only to motor vehicle crashes
- Nearly 80% of people who drown are male
- Drowning (called secondary or dry drowning) can occur up to 24 hours after swimming, so if your child exhibits symptoms such as consistent coughing, chest pain, trouble breathing or extreme fatigue after a day in the water, seek emergency medical treatment right away
Drowning doesn’t look like drowning.
The scary thing is, a person who is truly drowning (as opposed to someone experiencing aquatic distress) doesn’t behave as most of us expect. They are physically unable to move their arms, kick their legs, call for help or participate in their own rescue. Unless saved by a trained rescuer within 20 to 60 seconds, the person will submerge. Sadly, each year about 375 children drown within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. Sadder still, in 10 percent of those cases, an adult will actually see them drown without realizing what is happening.
Click on the image below to watch an amazing interactive video series and see if you can spot the drowning child. It’s harder than you think.
Put on your drunk goggles.
Spring poses challenges for parents of older teens and college-age kids, too, especially during spring break.
Binge drinking is alcohol consumption that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit of 0.08% or higher. That’s about 5 or more drinks for males and 4 or more drinks for females within a 2-hour period. Talk to your teens and pre-teens about peer pressure, drugs, alcohol and driving under the influence (or riding with someone who is). Here’s what you should know.
- Binge drinking is most common among young adults aged 18 to 34
- Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent
- Binge drinking is twice as high among males as females
- Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to drive impaired than non-binge drinkers
- About 90% of the alcohol consumed by people under the age of 21 is in the form of binge drinks
If your teens think a few drinks won’t impair their motor skills, you can purchase alcohol impairment simulation goggles — Google “drunk goggles.” They’re available in several BAC levels, including low, moderate and high.
Here’s what happened when Medical City Lewisville’s Manager of Trauma Services, Jennifer Turner, BSN, RN, recruited a volunteer and had her walk the line wearing the goggles.
Driven to distraction.
While binge drinking escalates during spring break, it can be a problem at any time of year. So can distracted driving, which is being called the new drunk driving because it’s on the rise whereas drunk driving fatalities in Texas have decreased over the last few years.
The worst culprit? Texting, because it requires using your eyes, hands and brain. Could you pass our texting and driving pop quiz?
In the video below, Matt Carrick, MD, Trauma Medical Director of Medical City Plano, talks about the dangers of distracted driving and says the best prevention is to put your phone down while in the car.
If spring injuries sideline your family this year, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.
Find a fast Medical City Healthcare ER near you.