Whether it’s the summertime cabin fever that spurs you to send your kids out of doors or the after-school energy burst, there are ample opportunities year-round for your children to clock some outdoors time. And if you remember the importance of safety, these outdoor times can be a positive, healthy experience.
Don’t forget to keep the following tips in mind before you send your kids out the door for some outside time.
When it comes to hitting the outdoors, whether it’s a nature hike, an organized bike ride or just a trip to a local park, it’s important your kids are outfitted with appropriate equipment and gear. First things first – if there’s a chance of rain and it’s going to be an extended time spent outside, make sure they’ve got waterproof clothing handy. Same goes for cold weather – make sure appropriate dress is utilized. Sickness often comes as a result of excess exposure to the elements.
If you’re stepping up your activities (i.e., skateboarding, biking, rollerblading, etc.) then you need to get used to sending them on their way with helmets, kneepads, elbow pads and the like. Johns Hopkins estimates that the No. 1 most common injury sustained on bikes, skates, scooters or skateboards is head injury – and 55 percent of children don’t wear helmets. Don’t let your kids be part of that statistic!
There are plenty of mantras we were all taught when we were kids (“Leaves of three, don’t bother me.”), and the sentiment still stands. When your kids are hitting the outdoors, make sure they (or you, if you’re accompanying) know how to identify harmful native plants. Poison oak and ivy can be identified by their leaves and ragweed, fairly common in the area, has a pretty distinctive look too. These types of plants can cause painful and prolonged rashes or can be packed with pollen or other allergic irritants. (Pro tip: Send a placard along with your kid with a cheat sheet on identifying harmful plant life – to pique their interest, turn it into a game!)
In South Dakota, we’re no strangers to bugs. But when bugs bite, they can carry and transfer a variety of potential problems on to your kids. Make sure that whether you’re accompanying your child or not, adequate insect repellant is on-hand – bite-transferred illnesses like West Nile virus and Lyme disease can have ongoing and severe effects. Additionally, long-sleeved shirts and pants are best when it comes to venturing into areas rife with bugs, such as wooded areas and near bodies of water.
Safety isn’t restricted just to being in nature, either. If you reside in the city, there are still important outdoor precautions to take. A lot of the gear and plant life tips above still apply, as well as making sure your children have your address and phone number on them in case of getting turned around or lost and clear rules set forth on how far they’re allowed to travel and with whom. It’s best to keep your kids within eyeshot or earshot when in a high-traffic area in a city. These are basic, no-nonsense rules of thumb – but a reminder never hurts.
But what about injury? Are you able to easily identify injuries (or at the very least get in touch with someone who does)? A study from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) found that fractures (36%), contusions (20%) and lacerations (17%) were among the most common injuries sustained on playgrounds and park equipment. An additional study from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) cited climbing equipment (23%), swings (22%) and slides (17%) as the most common playground mainstays to cause injury. Make sure that you know the steps to take if a tumble occurs, and keep a good eye on your younger kids when they’re out and about at the park or playground.
And when it comes to injury your team at Orthopedic Institute has you covered – set up an appointment once injuries like broken bones occur.