Preventing Summertime Injuries in Kids

Shannon Reed, DO and family medicine physician at UnityPoint Health – Meriter, offers some tips.

It’s finally summer! With longer days and warmer weather, many of us engage in more active pursuits, like swimming at the pool, kayaking or paddleboarding on one of Madison’s lakes, hiking and biking, and plenty of sports. We love to make the most of summer.

But summer can also present an increased risk of injury for kids. According to the Centers for Disease Control, injury is a major cause of morbidity and mortality for children.

Some of the most common causes are motor vehicle collisions/accidents, suffocation, drowning, poisoning, fires and falls. Many of these are addressed in well child visits and public health campaigns.

Less serious, but more common, is the fact that pediatric injuries can increase in the summer, due to kids being outdoors more often, out of school and more active. Here are a few ways to prevent injuries this summer.

During Sports

  • Stay hydrated!
  • Use well-fitting and appropriate equipment. With how quickly kids grow, keeping them in the right size pads, helmets and shoes/cleats can be a struggle, but this is one of the best ways to help avoid injuries. Be sure to check your child’s gear for a proper fit. Because the protective gear is specific to the sport, work with your coach on what they should be wearing.
  •  Make sure your kids warm up and stretch. Muscles behave a little bit like rubber bands. If they are cold, they don’t stretch well. If they get warmed up, they move much more easily.

While Outdoors

  • Sunburn prevention: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen, at least SPF 15, and applying every two hours. Additionally, sun-protective clothing and hats can be helpful in preventing sunburns.
  • Insect bites: For activities in heavily wooded areas, wear long sleeves and pants, with shoes. The AAP recommends using insect repellent containing DEET at a concentration no higher than 30%, but to wash it off with soap and water once outdoor activities are finished.
  • Water safety: Keep a close eye on kids while they swim or play in water. If you are able, have your kids take swim lessons so they can be strong swimmers. For young kids, swim with them and avoid areas with tides. While boating, all children should wear personal floatation devices (life jackets).

Finally, parents and caregivers should all learn and get certified in CPR. For more information on CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) training courses in the Madison and Dane County area, visit

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