Reduce School-Related Injuries with Simple Precautions and Safer Habits

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School-related activities account for about 2.2 million injuries each year in children under the age of 14. A few simple precautions and safer habits can help reduce kidsÂ? increased risk for injury as they return to school this year.

Amid the rush to stock up on fresh school supplies and fall’s hottest styles, back-to-school safety concerns can be easily overlooked. But parents may be surprised to know that the annual return to school marks an increase in reported injuries to school-aged children. Now is the ideal time to review safety risks and start the year off with safer habits in place.

“Most parents aren’t aware that school-related activities account for about 2.2 million injuries each year in children under the age of 14,” says Krista Fabregas, founder of KidSmartLiving.com. “Fortunately, many of these are preventable.”

She offers a look at how these injuries occur and the precautions both parents and kids can take.

“Playgrounds account for the majority of school-related injuries, with falls from equipment making up more than half of these,” says Fabregas. “Parents should ensure that equipment is well maintained and surrounded by adequate playground surfacing – at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch or other approved loose-fill safety surface is recommended.”

Playground spills will happen, but safer surfacing can make a nasty fall less dangerous – and less painful!

Kids’ risk of injury due to traffic, bicycles and school buses also increases during the school year, and the results can be serious – even tragic. Review traffic safety rules with walkers, car riders and bicycle riders to help instill safer to-and-from school habits and minimize these dangers.

“Bicycle riders should always wear a helmet. Buy a ‘cool’ one if necessary – it’s sure cheaper than brain surgery,” says Fabregas. “And be certain riders know and follow bicycle rules of the road.”

Parents of bus riders naturally have concerns about safety to and from school – though surprisingly, most children seriously injured in bus-related accidents are not passengers. Children are actually three times more likely to be seriously injured when boarding, exiting or walking around a bus.

“Parents need to remind kids that the bus driver cannot see them when they are within 10 feet of the bus – that’s the driver’s blind spot,” says Fabregas. “When crossing the street or playing close to the bus, children are at risk of serious injury.”

Bus riders should try to arrive at the bus stop early and always follow the driver’s safety rules on and off the bus. Safer bus-stop habits such as waiting for the bus to stop completely before approaching, walking several steps from the bus upon exiting, and waiting for the bus to leave before crossing the street can also help kids avoid danger.

Possibly the most effective preventative measure against traffic injuries is being organized and on time.

“When families rush to arrive at the last minute, safety rules and caution can be overlooked,” says Fabregas. “Kids dash across the street and drivers roll through stop signs – that’s just how accidents happen.”

It’s a challenge, but adding 15 minutes to your morning routine can dramatically decrease the risks to your family… and to others.

Another unexpected – but notable – danger to kids involves drawstring garments and accessories like backpacks. Drawstrings and backpack straps that become caught in bus or car doors can quickly cause injury due to strangulation or dragging. This accounts for numerous injuries each year and has even been the cause of several deaths.

Fabregas cautions parents to remove drawstrings from garments and, once adjusted to size, cut dangling backpack straps to minimize the danger.

Organized sports are another contributor to the tally of school-related injuries, but these don’t have to be “just part of the game.” Parents should be fully aware of all risks and make sure kids are properly conditioned, prepared for the physical demands of the sport, and that the proper safety equipment is always used.

Parents should also ensure that the school’s sports program is fully prepared to treat emergencies during both practice and competition.

Kids will always be kids, and accidental scrapes, bumps, and falls are just a few of the things parents expect. But a little extra effort on the side of caution can be the difference between a simple band-aid fix and a dozen stitches – or worse!

Fabregas recommends the following websites to parents interested in learning more about school-related injuries and preventative measures:

http://www.safekids.com
http://www.cpsc.gov
http://www.familyeducation.com

Krista Fabregas founded http://www.kidsmartliving.com in 1999 to provide parents with excellent resources, ideas and products that help create stylish, safe family homes and worry-free lifestyles.

For interviews, media kit or further information, contact Deann Reed at 832-476-5482.

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