Travel and Play Safety

Summertime means families are hitting the road and children are heading outdoors to play. It is not a coincidence that the season for extended daylight and outdoor activity is also the season for broken bones and accidental injuries. Whether on the road or in your backyard, it is the parent's job to ensure their child's safety during travel and play.

  • ATV Safety

      Know the Danger - Between 1982 and 2011, 11,688 ATV-related fatalities were reported. Of those, 2,865 fatalities were children younger than 16 years of age. This represents 25 percent of the total number of reported ATV-related fatalities during that time frame. Of the 2,865 ATV-related fatalities of children younger than 16 years of age, 1,226 (43 percent) were younger than 12 years of age.

      No Ride-a-Longs - ATVs should be used by only one person at a time, no riders. Do not hold young children in your lap.

      Always Wear Protective Gear - Helmets are especially important in reducing the risk of head injury. Protective gloves and heavy boots can also help reduce injuries.

      Slow Down - With their large, soft tires and high center of gravity, ATVs can reach speeds of up to 50 mph or more. Almost 60 percent of accidents involving ATVs result from tipping and overturning.

      Keep Kids Away - Children under 12 years of age should not operate any ATV. Younger children do not have adequate physical size and strength to control these vehicles. Nor do they have the thinking, motor, and perceptive skills to operate a vehicle safely. The minimum age for operating an ATV on or off the road should be at least 16 years old.

      Be Licensed and Trained - All ATV operators should be licensed and undergo a hands-on training course. Inexperienced drivers in their first month of using an ATV have 13 times the average risk of injury.

      Daytime Riding - ATVs should be used during daylight hours only. ATVs are difficult to control and collisions with other vehicles can result in severe injuries or death.

      Read the Manuals - Read all instruction manuals and follow the manufacturers' recommendations for use, maintenance, and pre-use checks.

      Stay Off The Road - Never operate an ATV on pavement or on a public road. Almost 10 percent of injuries and over 25 percent of deaths occurred while the ATV was on a paved road.

      Do Not Drive Under Any Influence - Do not operate an ATV if you have taken drugs or alcohol. According to the CPSC, 30 percent of all fatal ATV accidents involved alcohol use.

      Source: Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons

  • Bicycle and Helmet Safety

      Helmet Safety 
       
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      Correctly Sized Helmets - The helmet should fit snug, not moving on the head. The front edge of the helmet should be two finger widths above the eyebrows. The chin strap should be snug when you open your mouth. One finger should fit between the chin and chin strap when the mouth is closed.

      Approved Helmets - The helmet should be approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Approved helmets meet stringent safety standards.

      Correctly Sized Bikes - You should be able to place the balls of your feet on the ground when sitting on the seat. The bicycle should have a bell or horn.

      Road Rules - Stop before riding into traffic from a driveway, sidewalk, parking lot, or other street. Look left, right, and left again to check for cars. Ride on the far right of the road, with traffic. Ride so cars can see you, wearing brightly colored clothes, especially at night. Obey all traffic signals and stop signs. Ride bicycles in single file.

      Daytime and Good Weather Riding - Avoid riding your bicycle, in-line skates, or skateboard during non-daylight hours or during bad weather. If you ride at night, make sure your bicycle has a headlight, flashing taillight, and reflectors.

      Know the signs and symptoms of a concussion, and consult your child's physician immediately if you suspect that your child may have this injury.

  • Car Seat Safety

      More kids are killed in automobile crashes than any other type of unintentional injury. By following simple safety measures and teaching a few rules, you can help protect your child.

      Choose the Best Car Seat - The best car seat is not always the most expensive. It is the one that best fits the child by both weight and height, fits and installs well in your vehicle and the manufacturer's instructions are followed so that it is used correctly every time you transport your child. Choose a seat that meets or exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards 213.

      Accept Used Car Seats with Caution - If using a used car seat, call the manufacturer to find out the recommended length of use and if there has ever been a product recall for the seat. Contact information is on one of the car seat labels. If labels are missing, do not use the seat. 

      Outgrowing a Car Seat - Children who have outgrown the internal harness straps in their car seat by weight or height forward-facing, but are too small to be properly restrained by the vehicle's seat belts, should ride on a booster seat. Georgia state law requires that all children under 8 years of age and under 4'9" tall (57") ride in a car seat or booster seat. Children under 8 years of age must always ride in the back seat and car seats and booster seats must be used according to the manufacturer's instructions. Source: Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety

      Airbags and Kids - Airbags are designed with adults in mind and can be dangerous for younger, lighter-weight passengers. To protect your child from airbag related injuries, always transport children in an appropriate car seat or booster seat in the back seat. If you have no choice and must place a child in the front seat because all other back seat positions are already being used by other children, push the front passenger seat as far back away from the dash airbag compartment as possible. A safe rule of thumb is to always transport children 12 and under in the back seat.

  • Distracted Driving

      Play it Cool - Remind your kids before every road trip, and even just a quick trip down the road, the importance of staying calm and low-key in the back seat. Distracted driving puts all passengers at risk.

      Keep Kids Occupied - Before long road trips, plan activities that will keep kids occupied in the car without distracting the driver.

      It's the Law - Remember, it is illegal in the state of Georgia and many others to text while driving. All drivers under the age of 18 are banned from any cell phone use while behind the wheel.

      Learn more about auto safety.

  • Playground Safety

      Playground Safety 
       
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      Stick with Shock Absorbing Surfaces - Ensure there is safe surfacing beneath and surrounding all playground equipment. Recommended surface materials include sand, pea gravel, wood chips, mulch and shredded rubber. Rubber mats, synthetic turf and other artificial materials are also safe surfaces and require less maintenance.

      Avoid Hard Surfaces - Avoid playgrounds with asphalt, concrete, grass, dirt and soil surfaces under the equipment. A fall onto a shock absorbing surface is less likely to cause a serious injury than a fall onto a hard surface.

      Swing Safe - For swings, make sure that the surfacing extends, in the back and front, twice the height of the suspending bar, so if the top of the swing set is 10 feet high, the surfacing should extend 20 feet.

      Use a Professional - Make sure that all playgrounds are inspected and maintained by qualified personnel. Daily, monthly and annual maintenance schedules should be followed.

      Age-Appropriate - Maintain separate play areas for children under age 5. Ensure that children use age-appropriate playground equipment.

      School Safety - Ensure that schools and childcare centers have age-appropriate, well-maintained playground equipment and that trained supervisors are present at all times when children are on the playground. Report any playground safety hazards to the organization responsible for the site (e.g., school, park authority, city council).

      Constant Supervision - Always supervise children using playground equipment. Stay where you can see and hear them.

      No Horseplay - Prevent unsafe behaviors like pushing, shoving, crowding and inappropriate use of equipment.

      Clothing Hazards - Remove hood and neck drawstrings from all children’s outerwear. Never allow children to wear helmets, necklaces, purses, scarves or clothing with drawstrings while on playgrounds.

      Know the Signs of Fracture - The symptoms of a fracture include swelling, redness, pain, deformity and joint stiffness.

      Seek Specialists for Injuries - Pediatric orthopedists and radiologists are specially trained to correctly diagnose and treat injuries in children. If a child has been injured, observe her carefully and use good judgment. Always consult a pediatrician or other healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns regarding her injury; if the injury appears serious or life-threatening, call 911 and seek emergency medical assistance right away.

      Source: Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Safe Kids Georgia.

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