In Part I of our series on child safety we talked about risks associated with bouncing around on those seemingly innocent horsey rides at stores or in bouncy houses.
Speaking of bouncing, let’s talk about those backyard trampolines. The American Academy of Pediatrics. a group that’s always concerned about child safety, now recommends against using trampolines. Their data show that 70 children per 100,000 are injured on them (compared to only 5 per 100,000 who are injured in bouncy rooms). The majority of the injuries happen when several kids are bouncing on the trampoline at the same time—especially when there’s height/weight difference between them (smaller kids tend to get launched into the air or smacked into by bigger ones). A real child safety disaster.
The most dangerous play areas of all are stairways. Of course, we all know kids aren’t supposed to play on stairs, but they do. And more than 100,000 wind up in emergency rooms every year as a result (hundreds of thousands more are injured but not severely enough to need emergency treatment).
Bumps and bruises accounted for more than a third of stairway-related injuries. But that was nothing compared to the 75% of kids who had injuries to the head and neck. Overall, the injury rate is about 424 per 100,000—6 times more than for trampolines. The good news is that the rate is down from 530 per 100,000 in 1999.
About a quarter of injuries to children one years old and younger occurred when a parent or caretaker was carrying the child.
Child Safety Recommendations
As mentioned earlier, I don’t expect that any of what you read here about lapses in child safety will keep too many people off stairs, trampolines, bouncy houses, or horsey rides. But if you’re going to do it, at least try to do it safely. Here are some recommendations from Gary Smith and his colleagues:
- Always follow all posted height, age, weight and health restrictions.
- Make sure to follow any special seating order and/or loading instructions.
- Always use safety equipment such as seat belts and safety bars.
- Keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times.
Know your child: If you don’t think he/she will follow the rules, keep him/her off the ride.
- Trust your instincts: If you are worried about the ride’s safety, choose another activity.
- Avoid “mall rides” if they are over a hard, unpadded surface or if they don’t have a seat belt.
- Keep kids under 6 out of the bouncy houses and castles
- Allow only one child in the bouncer at a time. If more than one child will be on the bouncer at the same time, make sure they are about the same age and size.
- Have parental supervision at all times.
- Don’t use them at all
- Install gates at the top and bottom of the stairs
- Keeping stairs clutter-free
- Installing and use railings.
- When carrying a child, avoid carrying other items