As schools begin to let out for summer, many children are looking forward to a season full of jumping, playing and running around. Although trampolines, bounce houses, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and jet skis are commonly used for summer fun, this doesn’t mean that they are always safe.
Fortunately, you can encourage your child to have a fun and safe summer by following these safety tips from Stephen Teach, M.D., M.P.H., a pediatrician who specializes in emergency medicine and trauma services at Children’s National Health System:
Proper supervision is essential in ensuring your child has the best experience possible while participating in any outdoor activity.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) cautions against home and recreational trampoline use due to the many injuries that can occur. So although it is discouraged, if your child is using a trampoline, in the very least make sure they are heavily supervised.
In younger kids, more head injuries are associated with the use of trampolines and bounce houses. In older kids, injuries tend to be associated with hitting the sides of the frame or falling off altogether, so there are more long-term injuries—bone injuries, broken arms or legs or even internal injuries. Attempts at “flips” should not be allowed.
For bounce houses it’s important to make sure you are always following the recommendations for age requirements and the maximum number of occupants allowed at one time. All children should be the same size to avoid risk of injury from colliding with or falling under another child. Ideally, only one child should enter at a time.
It is also important to make sure children entering the bounce house do not have objects in their pockets or hands that could cause further injury. Kids should take off footwear, eyeglasses and jewelry before getting on the set.
When operating an ATV, all state and local regulations should be followed. A child under the age of 16 should not operate an ATV, and those who are older should wear the proper protective headgear and proceed with caution while operating. Instruction and supervision by an experienced adult are essential.
Children must follow all age regulations before hopping on a jet ski and must also have a size-appropriate flotation device. Children should be appropriately instructed, and many jurisdictions offer safety courses.
The use of these machines should be closely supervised and limited. Adults should never involve a child in the operation of an ATV or jet ski when the adult is under the influence of any kind.
Stephen Teach, M.D., M.P.H., is the chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Children’s National Health System. Dr. Teach lives in Bethesda, Maryland, and loves to spend his free time outdoors working in his garden.