Oishei trauma center head offers top summer safety tips

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – This is a busy time of year at Oishei Children’s Hospital as families learn the hard way about many of the common summer safety hazards.

Dr. Kathryn Bass, a pediatric surgeon and the director of the Level I Pediatric Trauma Center at Oishei Children’s Hospital, says about 98 percent of the accidents that send kids to the ER there are preventable.

A big culprit, she says, are fireworks.

“We have a lot of hands, face, upper body injuries from firework explosions,” Dr. Bass said.

She urges all families to leave fireworks to the pros, and suggests families give kids glow sticks rather than sparklers to celebrate the 4th.

“Sparklers are a huge issue,” she pointed out. “Think about it this way, it’s like handing a welding torch to your child.”

Summer brings many burn hazards, including grills and bonfires.

Adults must keep a very close eye on children around these hazards, just as they must watch children every moment near water.

“Always keep an eye on your children. Children can do amazing things in a short amount of time,” said Jeff Abbott, Trauma & Injury Prevention Coordinator for Oishei Children’s Hospital.

“Swim with the buddy system, stay out of the river. and make sure your children are wearing a life preserver or personal flotation device,” he advised.

Drownings are too common, and it’s all too easy for a day of fun in the sun to turn tragic.

But, Dr. Bass points out any time spent in the sun at all comes with some risks.

“Just keep in mind that every few hours you should be reapplying sunscreen, and also have a plan for hydration and rest in the shade,” she said.

The kids need to stay inside altogether while you’re out mowing the lawn. The experts say lawnmowers are a tempting attraction for children, but the injuries from getting run over by a mower can be catastrophic.

Dr. Bass and Abbott also say if you’re planning to do any bike rides or ATV rides with your family this holiday, helmets are a must.

Head injuries are common this time of year, especially, in part because the number of children falling out of windows spikes.

“A lot of our buildings are older. They don’t have centralized air conditioning. People want to open their windows. That’s all fine, except you have to be prepared, you have to inspect your windows. Make sure you have window safety locks so that the window cannot come up high enough so that a toddler or a small child can fit through,” Dr. Bass explained. “We do have a lot of falls from heights once the weather gets warm.”

“A child’s center of gravity is higher. The head is more weighty than the rest of the body, and the head is like a missile landing first, so head injuries are a big problem with falls from heights,” she said.

Dr. Bass says adults need to be “on duty” all the time to prevent accidents. She says for summer celebrations, like the upcoming festivities for the 4th, adults in your group need to work together to come up with a plan and be clear about who’s supervising children.

Of course, “on duty” adults also need to stay sober to ensure they’re ready and able to respond to any incident that may happen.

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