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Thursday, October 28, 2021

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Play Safely This Summer

Mary Washington Healthcare offers tips on preventing common injuries 

After a year of virtual learning, drive-by birthday parties and cancelled sports seasons, children and parents are long overdue for a fun-filled summer.

Mary Washington Healthcare wants that summer to be happy, healthy and injury-free. As the region’s only Level II Trauma Center, Mary Washington Hospital’s trauma team has first-hand knowledge of the biggest causes of injury, and proactively offers resources to the community to prevent them.

Mary Washington Healthcare’s Trauma Educator and Outreach Coordinator, Jessica King, RN, offers these reminders to help set your family up for safe summer fun. Have peace of mind in knowing that our trauma center is here for you if the need arises—but we’d rather see you spending your time making memories with family and friends.

Bicycles

With more children on bikes during the day as school hours shifted during the pandemic, healthcare providers saw an increase in bicyclists being struck by cars. Many SUVs are high enough that the driver cannot see a child on a bike over the hood. Increased use of smartphones by both automobile drivers and bicyclists only increases the risk. Teach children safe biking practices, and always wear a helmet. 

“The most common injury we see on bikes is the handlebar injury, where kids go over the handlebars on the front of the bike,” King said. “This typically causes bleeding, and parents and kids can prepare themselves by learning how to control bleeding until emergency personnel arrive.”

When injuries happen, the most important thing you can do for your children is to stay calm while you call for help…

Mary Washington Healthcare offers “Stop the Bleed” classes in the community where individuals can learn the life-saving skills of identifying severe bleeding and using pressure, tourniquets and other techniques to control it while waiting for help to arrive.

Water safety

Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4—but it doesn’t take a pool to create a risk. Parents should know that young children can drown in vessels as common as toilets and buckets. “Anything with over an inch of water is a risk,” King said. “Kids are top-heavy—their heads are two-thirds of their body weight until they are 3. When they peek into the bucket because they are curious, they just go head-first right in.”

The pandemic saw a huge increase in home pool installation in the Fredericksburg region. Backyard pools are safest when they are surrounded by a fence that is at least 4 feet tall and secured with a self-latching gate. Visit PoolSafety.gov for more tips.

River safety is an important skill for all residents of the Fredericksburg region. Eighty people have drowned on the Rappahannock since 1985, and most river drowning victims don’t even make it to the hospital. “The river looks slow on top, but there are many rapids underneath that you can’t see,” King said. “The river bottom is always changing, and there are dips and different depths.” She noted that Old Mill Park and other popular riverside parks are not a safe place for swimming, and that everyone should wear a personal flotation device when they are on or near the river. If someone is in trouble, it’s important to “Throw, don’t go,” King said, and throw a flotation device or rope to the victim while also alerting 911. More river safety tips can be found at fredericksburgva.gov/786/River-Safety

Sun safety

The sun can cause second- and third-degree burns, so make sure you throw extra sunscreen into your day bag for any summer adventure. To guard against dehydration, make sure you and your kids are drinking both water and a sports drink with electrolytes if you are out in the sun for prolonged periods. Know the signs of sun poisoning, which include lightheadedness, a dry mouth, dark urine, headache and dizziness. Younger children may not be able to tell you about these symptoms, so staying on top of hydration is key.

King also reminds parents not to forget about the eyes—polarized sunglasses are just as important for children as for adults.

Firework safety

Fireworks were responsible for 12 deaths and 10,000 injuries across the U.S. in 2019, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. King urges individuals not to use illegal fireworks, and to keep basic safety tips in mind, especially as these devices are often used during one of the driest times of the year, which can increase the risk of fire.

  • Always wear fire-resistant materials when using fireworks. 
  • Read the directions and keep clear. Do not approach a firework that is not functioning to inspect it. Spray it with water and dispose of it.
  • Always have a water source nearby when using fireworks.
  • Children should always be closely supervised when using sparklers. 

Know where to go

When injuries happen, the most important thing you can do for your children is to stay calm while you call for help or take your child to the nearest urgent care or emergency department.

King says if you are at all in doubt about calling 911 or visiting the emergency room, you should follow your gut and make the call or head to the hospital. If your child has had a head injury of any kind, it’s important to come to the hospital to have them examined for a concussion. 

Mary Washington Hospital is the region’s only Level II Trauma Center, and Mary Washington Healthcare also provides emergency care at Stafford Hospital and the Emergency and Outpatient Center at Lee’s Hill.

For more minor injuries, Mary Washington Urgent Care is available in King George and Stafford.

For more information about trauma care at Mary Washington Hospital, visit trauma.mwhc.com.

Chris Joneshttps://www.fredericksburgparent.net
Chris Jones is an award-winning journalist and graphic designer and editor of Fredericksburg Parent. When he's not editing or digging up ideas for stories, he loves playing classic video games with his 5-year-old daughter, getting outdoors with his boys, rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams, and reading books.

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