5 Non-fatal Drownings, 2 Kids Shot. Cook Children’s Urges Safety While Kids Stay At Home.
For our safety, we’ve all been asked to stay at home to protect each other and our community.
This is sound advice that everyone should follow but with so many kids home, Cook Children’s has begun to see rising numbers in outdoor- and home-related injuries.
During the past month, Cook Children’s Trauma team numbers show five children were treated for non-fatal drownings and two children were treated for non-fatal gun-shot wounds.
“Parents are multi-tasking even more today. Even though they may be working from home, they are balancing watching the kids, doing school work and trying to do their full-time job. Everyone is stressed about finances and what the future holds as well,” said Sharon Evans, Trauma/Injury Prevention outreach coordinator at Cook Children’s. “All these factors create the perfect storm for injuries. With all of the COVID-19 stress, the last thing a parent or maybe even a grandparent needs is for a child to be injured or killed because they weren’t watching their children. There are no ‘do-overs.’”
Many families have turned to walks, bike riding and other physical activities outdoors, which have led to increased injuries from not using helmets, protective gear and other safety guidelines. Head and arm injuries are common problems associated with outdoor riding and other activities.
“While we are ecstatic that children are finding ways to get exercise and enjoy the mild weather, we want to remind parents to make sure that kids are protected while having fun and, of course while maintaining social distancing,” Kara Starnes, D.O. medical director of Urgent Care at Cook Children's said.
In order to prevent head injuries, Dr. Starnes recommends proper supervision and use of helmets and other protect equipment. Arm injuries can be prevent by using protective equipment and teaching your children to fall on their forearms rather than on the outstretched hand-one of the most common types of fractures.
“As a pediatrician, it is hard for me to fathom for my patients no parks or interaction with other children, but we are living through a difficult time with COVID-19. Some ideas to keep your children healthy and active while maintaining safe distancing from others include a multitude of online activity classes online geared towards children such as dance lessons, yoga, or exercises geared towards certain sports,” Dr. Starnes said. “Other ideas include creating a contest between your children to see who can dribble a basketball the longest with the winner getting to skip their least desired chore for the day.”
There is no instruction manual for parenting in a pandemic, but following safety precautions can drastically improve some of the stress from having the kids outside all day.
Here are some particular precautions you should consider in regards to keeping your child safe during this time:
Water and Pool Safety in the time of COVID-19
One of the great things about being stuck at home is the opportunity to start some of your summer activities early.
Grills are firing up. Kites are flying. Pools are starting to be used.
But all the early summer play and exploration is not without risks.
Over the past few weeks in the start of the COVID-19 orders to stay at home, Cook Children’s has seen five non-fatal drownings in both parent’s and grandparent’s pools.
It’s important to keep in mind this risk as parents are distracted at home more than ever by their own fears and work responsibilities. Alcohol use has also increased which can lead to distracted parenting. Even during the best of times, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause of death for kids 1-14 in Texas.
Here are some general and COVID-specific tips to help protect your child:
- While swimming in your pool, remember to practice social distancing in the water, just like you do on land.
- Install four sided fences with self-latching gates around pools. Walk around existing fences and gates and check for proper functioning.
- Have your family safe swim talk today. Especially enforce no swimming alone as bored children tend to explore.
- Remind your kids that the water might be cooler than they expect. Surprise cold water can lead to panic and increased risk.
- Use pool door/child alarms and check their functioning.
- When able, take CPR and swim lessons. If your child can’t swim, you must be within arm’s reach AT ALL TIMES.
- Have a non-distracted adult watching the water at all times. Designate who that person is and rotate frequently.
For more information on how to implement this advice, please visit Cook Children’s Water Safety website.
Gun safety during Stay at Home
Well, parents, welcome to helping to teach your kid whether you wanted to or not.
But, while we might not be able to help all our kids with “The New Math,” there is one particular topic that you should definitely cover with your children during these times as it could save their life: gun safety.
Gun awareness and gun safety are a passion for Daniel Guzman, M.D., the medical direct of the Aim for Safety program at Cook Children’s, which promotes fire arm safety. Dr. Guzman has the following advice:
If your child sees a gun, teach them to:
- Don't touch
- Run away
- Tell a grownup
- Store firearms unloaded in locked locations, out of reach of children.
- Use trigger locks and gun boxes.
- Secure ammunition separately.
- Hide gun safe and trigger lock keys.
- Keep unlocked guns in your possession.
- Make sure all guns are equipped with effective, child-resistant gun locks.
- If a visitor has a gun in a backpack, briefcase, handbag, or unlocked car, provide them with a locked place to keep it when your home.
- Ask the parents of your child’s friends if they have guns in their homes and how they are stored.
- If you are asked about your guns, don’t be offended.
Another way to easily remember and share with family and friends is what Dr. Guzman coined the "3T's of firearm safety and children.
Talk – to your family, friends, and neighbors about the importance of firearm safety to keep our children safe
Teach – your children how to respond if they encounter an unsecured firearm
Take – personal responsibility to store your firearms appropriately to keep ALL our children safe
Other safety concerns include:
- Chemical exposure - Extra cleaning supplies around the house are important to keep our families safe but ensuring safe and secure storage is important, particularly with younger children in the house. Click to learn more way to protect your child.
- Head injuries and falls - Allow kids to get outside and relaxed rules inside can be helpful to pass the time but ensure that children are properly supervise and using protective equipment correctly. Find out more safety tips here.
- Vehicular hyperthermia - Change in routine is one of the biggest risk factors for a child being left in a car. Build in safeguards to ensure that you remember that you have a child with you anytime you are in the car. Also, always remember to keep your doors locked in the driveway to prevent child access. Learn more here.
- Parental frustration and child abuse - The stresses of COVID-19 are heavy on both children and parents. The anxiety and isolation can lead to frustration which can lead to abuse. Ensure that you are finding time to take care of yourselves and reach out for help if necessary. Read our article we wrote on this topic.
Helpful Safety Information: