The summer break is in full swing and kids are going to and from activities to prevent boredom. Summer camps and sports leagues are popular choices to not only keep them entertained, but physically active at the same time.
As more and more parents are choosing sports camps and other structured activities, kids are at a greater risk of experiencing sports-related injuries, from minor bumps and bruises, to potentially significant muscle and bone injuries. They are even at greater risk for concussions.
In general, there is often a higher risk of injury in part because kids are just playing a lot more and, in many cases, at a much higher level. Parents need to be on the lookout for injuries that could cause more damage than what can be easily noticed, specifically when it comes to the head, neck and spine.
Common injuries to be on the lookout for may include: concussions, sprains, broken bones, heat exhaustion, sunburn, dehydration and even insect bites.
Some tips to keep kids injury-free this summer include:
Recognize injuries and get help early - Make sure your child understands he or she should talk with you or someone they trust at camp and seek help if experiencing pain or something that “just doesn’t feel right.”
Stress the importance of stretching (warming up) - Stretching is an important prevention technique that should become habit for all young children before starting an activity or sport. Ask the onsite teachers about if stretching is available before and after activities.
Get plenty of rest and drink fluids - Athletes of all ages need to rest between practices, games and events. A lack of sleep and muscle fatigue predispose an athlete to injury. And, make sure they drink plenty of fluids, especially if the activity is outdoors.
Be aware of prolonged sun exposure – Use and reapply sunscreen, hats and appropriate clothing for the activity. When possible, look for shaded areas and/or try to avoid the times between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Many camps have policies around reapplication of sunscreen and other products, so check with your organization.
Use the appropriate equipment - In every sport, there is a correct way and wrong way to do things. Depending on the sport, young athletes should be wearing the proper protective gear and using the recommended technique to avoid serious injury. For everyday outdoor activities like riding a bike or skating don’t forget the use of helmets and protective elbow and knee pads.
Use insect repellent - Always use and reapply repellent to protect your children, especially for activities taking place when mosquitoes are more active such as at dusk time.
A word on water safety - Always ensure your child is supervised at all times during water activities. Even if your child knows how to swim accidents happen. Teach your child safety rules around pools like no running or pushing others and to always check with their assigned grown up before entering the water. Do not use inflatable toys as flotation assist devices.
Schedule a physical exam - It’s a great way to determine if your child is fit to play. Physicals help to assess any areas of concern for athletes before they start an activity. In also helps keep them from further injuring themselves.
Schedule an appointment with a pediatrician now!