Top 10 Tips For Summer Safety
Keep yourself and your children safe this summer as you have fun.
Compiled By Emma Harrington
Shepherd Center Director of Injury Prevention and Education
Summer brings lots of fun and outdoor activities, but it is also a season that often yields a spike in brain and spinal cord injuries. To avoid these injuries, please follow these safety tips.
- Always enter the water feet first. This includes all bodies of water – oceans, lakes, ponds, waterslides, mud holes, pools, etc. Both brain and spinal cord injuries can and do occur due to diving.
- Designate a “water watcher” – someone constantly watching swimming children and adults from the shore to avoid drownings and brain injury.
- Boating laws have changed in Georgia, and you are now liable for a BUI (boating under the influence) if consuming alcohol while boating. Alcohol, sun exposure and operating machinery are a dangerous combination.
- Make sure all children wear an appropriately sized life jacket at all times while participating in all water sports, or on a boat. Avoid swimming in heavily trafficked areas where boats are likely to pass.
- While trampolines should be used with extreme caution, if at all, reduce your likelihood of injury by maintaining a high-walled enclosure and padded edges. Only allow children to jump one at a time and under constant supervision. Somersaults and flips are not worth the potential for spinal cord injuries.
- Always wear your helmet, making sure it fits snuggly and you can tilt your head back and forth without any movement from the helmet. The straps should form a “Y” around your ear for a snug fit. Helmets reduce your likelihood of traumatic brain injury (TBI) by 85 percent, according to the CDC. While helmets reduce the likelihood of a TBI, they are not a failsafe. Always exercise caution and obey traffic laws while riding a bike. Helmets should be replaced if they have sustained a significant hit.
- Graduated teen licensing laws have been proven to reduce the number of teen fatalities and injuries by allowing teens to practice their skills gradually in low-risk settings. Teens are most at risk during their first year of driving. Driving at night and having multiple passengers increases that already substantially high risk. Please adhere to the law and guidelines to help protect your child.
- As always, put away all distractions while driving. Though talking on the phone while driving using both handheld and hands-free sets is still legal in Georgia for adults, the risk is not worth it. Hands-free devices do not reduce the risk of accidents while driving because talking on the phone still can cause cognitive distraction leading to inattention blindness (not seeing a stop sign or other car, for example), according to the National Safety Council.
- ATVs are not safe for anyone under 16 and should only be used by single riders. Make sure to complete a safety course before riding an ATV that is properly sized for the individual rider.
- If you have a pool in your backyard, make sure it is fenced in and locked when there is no adult supervision. Remove all diving boards from personal pools.
For more information on Shepherd Center's Injury Prevention Program, click here.
EMMA HARRINGTON is the director of injury prevention and education services at Shepherd Center. Previously, Emma started the injury prevention program at Grady Memorial Hospital in the Trauma Department. She holds a master of education degree in international education policy from Harvard University. Originally from Boston, Emma is a licensed social studies teacher.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 740 inpatients, nearly 280 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.