Important tips on how to keep your kids safe when they're playing outside this summer.

July 26, 2006

  • Check on readiness. Before the games begin, ensure that your kids are able to compete and are in a healthy physical and mental state to meet the demands of the sport. Also, check to see if the coaches are certified in CPR.
  • Wear proper gear. It is crucial to have your kids wear protective gear that fits them well. For games such as baseball and softball, the most common injuries are to the upper body and sprains to the joints, some of which can be prevented with proper equipment. Make it a rule that your child always wear a mouth guard and neck collar when appropriate. The American Dental Association suggests that anyone who participates in sports that carry a "significant risk" of injury --- like football, hockey, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, and volleyball --- should wear a mouth guard.
  • Assess performance. Ask the coaches to assess your child's performance to see if he can carry out the various skills with ease. While a child may want to participate in the games for the fun of it, it may not be the best choice for children with health problems, like asthma.
  • Warm-up and cool down. To help prevent injuries, make sure your child has a chance to warm-up before play and cool down after.
  • Evaluate the environment. Check that the area is safe for the sport --- for example, check fields for holes, broken glass, and rocks. Also, ensure there are enough certified life guards at pools and beaches.
  • Keep your child hydrated. It's important for him to drink frequently in order to prevent heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat-strokes.
  • Preview the pool. Tame horsing around, because most of all pool injuries stem from rough play. Check the chlorine levels to safeguard against waterborne illness. Always closely supervise young children neear the water.
  • Be beach-ready. When at the beach, teach your tweens the strategy for getting out of a rip current. The National Weather Service says the best way to get out of a rip current is not to fight against the current, but to swim (or float or thread water if you are unable to swim) out of the current toward the shoreline. Ensure that life jackets have the stamp of approval from the US Coast Guard.

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