Most Common Memorial Day Injuries
Last year's most common injuries to avoid this holiday weekend
Memorial Day weekend is here and for many of us, this is family time away from the office or school.
Unfortunately, it can also be a time of tragedy when kids are rushed to Cook Children’s for help.
We took a look at the traumatic injuries Cook Children's patients suffered last Memorial Day weekend as a reminder of what to be mindful of this weekend.
1. Vehicular crashes
Last year, 5 children were injured in car crashes, and another was killed. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in teens, ahead of all other types of injury, disease or violence. The Texas Department of Public Transportation states there are more than 100,000 traffic crashes in Texas each year involving distracted driving.
The National Safety Council estimates indicate that 409 people may be killed on the roads during the upcoming Memorial Day holiday period. To ensure you and your family are safe on the road this weekend:
- Wear a seat belt on every trip.
- Make sure children are restrained in safety seats that are appropriate for their height, age and weight.
- Designate an alcohol and drug-free driver or arrange alternative transportation.
- Don't allow young drivers to drive with their friends. A single young passneger can increase a teen driver's fatal crash risk by 44 percent.
"If it can accelerate your body, it can injure you," said Corwin Warmink, M.D., medical director of the Emergency Department at Cook Children's. "Vehicular accidents, including boats, ATVs, cars, scooters and bikes are all too common on holiday weekends during the summer."
2. Auto/pedestrian or Auto/bike injuries
Last year, four kids were treated at Cook Children's after being struck by a car either while walking or riding a bicycle.
Cook Children's is already on a record pace for the amount of kids we have seen hit by cars, including one child who died. Maybe it’s distracted drivers or maybe it’s the nicer weather. Regardless, it’s up to adults to keep an eye out for children walking or riding their bikes outside and not the other way around.
Kids age 10 and younger should not walk or ride bicycles, scooters or skateboards alone because they:
- Are easily distracted by friends and toys.
- Can’t determine the direction of sounds. Some children may be listening for sounds and may not realize that some newer model electric/hybrid may not make much of a sound at all.
- Can’t judge the speed or distance of a moving vehicle.
- Don’t understand how long it takes a vehicle to stop.
- Have too narrow a field of vision.
Even when kids reach age 10, it’s still best for parents to accompany them across the street, or to school whenever possible.
Kids on wheels are a common theme if you look at last year’s report. One child was treated after a rollerblading fall and other one fell off a skateboard. A recent report from Safe Kids Worldwide and Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen program found that nearly 50 kids an hour visit an ER because of bikes, scooters, skates and skateboard injuries.
Make sure your children wear a helmet and knee and elbow pads.
Two other children were treated after falling from balconies. These types of falls, including out of windows, are always a concern as we head into the summer. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, on average eight children ages 5 and under die each year as a result of falling out of windows and 3,300 are injured.
This is definitely a ‘fair weather’ injury and children 3 to 4 years old seems to be the highest risk,” said Sharon Evans, Trauma/Injury Prevention coordinator at Cook Children’s. “In talking to parents, we’ve also found that families with special needs children, such as autism, have a special concern about falling out of windows. It’s more common than I ever thought."
Cook Children's and Safe Kids Tarrant County strongly recommend window guards on all windows above the first floor, preferably guards equipped with an emergency release device in case of fire.
“A screen is not a safety device,” said Dana Walraven, Cook Children’s Community Health Outreach manager and Safe Kids Tarrant County coordinator. “It’s designed to keep insects out, not to keep children in. Proper safety guards on windows save lives.”
Last year during Memorial Day weekend, we also saw one snake bite, one gun shot wound and one non-fatal drowning at a pool.
Guns in a house or car should never be loaded and accessible, Dr. Warmink said. The gun and the ammunition should be in separate locations and both places should be locked so the child won’t have access to them.
While a handgun or rifle can cause instant devastation, Dr. Warmink warns parents not to get complacent with pellet or BB guns.
“Pellet guns and BB guns can cause serious injuries, and we have seen deaths from them,” Dr. Warmink said. “It only takes one gunshot to the eye or chest for a kid’s life to be forever changed. A pellet gun into the heart or head can cause severe injury or even death.
Only one child was seen during Memorial Day Weekend for snake bites, but Cook Children’s treated three kids in the month of May.
- Don't touch a snake.
- Don't try to kill a snake.
- Ignore the snake if you see it.
- Wear closed-toe shoes in wooded areas.
- Don't put fingers under rocks or crawl under houses or other structures.
- Don't canoe or boat under limbs on rivers, streams or lakes.
- Avoid edges of lakes, streams and rivers where vegetation is high.
- Instruct your children to notify you if they see a snake.
- If bitten by a snake, seek medical help immediately.
- DO NOT open the wound or try to suck out the venom.
While one child was treated for a near-drowning during Memorial Day weekend, Cook Children’s has already seen 6 kids for drowning this month in 2017 (5 at a pool and one at a lake).
"We've seen many cases where children took their life preservers off and jumped back into the water," said Magdalena Santillan, Trauma Injury Prevention specialist at Cook Children’s. "Often, parents are getting ready to leave the pool and don't realize their kids have jumped back in."
One of the best ways to protect your child around the pool or lake is to Lifeguard Your Child and become a Water Watcher. This means adults take turns supervising the water with undistracted attention. You can find more information about the program here, including 5 seldom used tips that could save a child's life.