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Swimming-and-Drowing-Risks-300x244During the summer months, swimming is a wonderful activity for children.  It can also be a dangerous one. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is listed as the top cause of death for children ages one to four years old.  For older children ranging in age from five to nineteen years old, drowning is listed as the third leading cause of death.

There are several precautions a parent can take to protect their children from drowning. Children near open bodies of water, like lakes or beaches, should wear life vests. However, of the almost one thousand child drownings each year, the majority of these occur in home backyard pools. First, there should always be a supervising adult near swimming children. Many parents and homeowners decide it is best to construct a fence around their pool in order to physically separate young children from the water, and studies show that “four-sided fencing with a locking gate… prevents more than half of swimming pool deaths in children.” The CDC recommends a fence at least four feet high. In the event of a child falling into a pool or other body of water, parents should take care to learn CPR.

One preventative measure which has garnered a bit of attention in the last few years is youth swimming lessons—starting as young as a year old. The reason for this early start is twofold—first, infants can drown in bodies of water much smaller than a swimming pool, like a bathtub or even a bucket of water, and, second, the lessons prepare young children in case they accidentally fall into a swimming pool. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says almost seventy percent of drowning victims under the age of five were not expected to be in the water. For this reason, youth swimming lessons are focused on familiarization with water, being able to breach the surface and tread water or looking for floatation devices. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swim lessons for children between the years of one and four, and the USA Swimming Foundation reports that lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by almost ninety percent. Parents should make sure that, when enrolling their children in a swimming course, the teachers are properly trained and that there are lifeguards on duty.

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Campground-300x239Parents enroll children in the Boy Scouts to learn life lessons.  For most scout members, activities are filled with fun and meaningful times. At times, scouts are subject to abuse and neglect by the very adults / scout masters who are supposed to supervise and protect the scouts.

While the Boy Scouts of America is intended to foster the growth and development of your child there is always the possibility that injuries are sustained. Just recently in Nassau County Florida, there was a case wherein a scout master was arrested for assaulting one of the children in the program. After the mother reached out to the BSA, the BSA released a statement denouncing the scout master’s actions and assuring the public that due to their mandatory reporting policy, their children’s safety remained a priority of the organization. So, what happens in the case of your child being injured during a Boy Scouts of America event? The BSA provides comprehensive general liability insurance for cases where a child may be injured. This provides coverage to scouts in any case involving negligent actions of a third party resulting in personal injury or property damage. The BSA also offers coverage for accidents and sickness, offering medical reimbursement I case of death, accident, or sickness within the policy’s amounts (www.scouting.org/health-and-safety).

As mentioned earlier, the BSA has a mandatory reporting policy, but what are the resources offered in order to handle serious cases. On their website, the BSA offers reports for both incidents and near miss situations. The BSA asks that these reports are completed immediately after the occurrence of the incident in order to get as many facts down as possible. Risk management bases these policies off of the facts provided in the initial incident report, so they stress the importance of including evidence and details of what took place. While this may not prevent every scenario, the BSA attempts to expand its safety policies in accordance to the reports they receive.

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Summer is filed with fun and play for children. For some, the bounce house is a great place for children to exercise, move around, and socialize with friends.  The bounce house can also the scene of a serious injury especially for small children and toddlers.  Just because a bounce house is padded and filled with air does not mean that a bounce house is a safe place.

Bounce house play can be a fun time for your children this summer, but repeatedly jumping up and coming down in various ways come with inherent risks. While it is difficult to completely ensure your child’s safety within a bounce house without being over-protective, measures can be taken to minimize safety risks. When buying or renting a bounce house to use for a children’s event check to make sure that the selected bounce house is equipped with safety nets and is set up as instructed by the manufacturer. This includes remembering to securely fashion the bounce house to the ground in order to account for sudden gusts of wind that may topple over the house. While most injuries suffered within bounce houses are not severe, if wind knocks the house airborne with children inside of it, the chance of serious injury skyrockets. Though it may be hard to regulate, keeping the number of children within the bounce house below its maximum capacity further minimizes risk of injury to your child.

Dr. David Foley, medical director of an urgent care centers, states that summer is the season that sees the most “slip, trip, or fall’ injuries. He goes on to state that risk of injury is inevitable in bounce houses due to promoting jumping and falling in different ways. The risk is even greater in these cases as the bounce houses allow for falls from even greater heights, generating more momentum and force as they fall back to ground which can lead to more serious injury. When setting up a bounce house outdoors, check weather reports for rain as a slippery bounce house can be a recipe for disaster, adding more risk to an already dangerous activity. According to doctor Foley the most common injuries that occur within bounce houses are to the limbs. These types of injuries include but are not limited to, twisted ankles, fractured elbows, and in the most serious of cases, head trauma. For events in which parents plan to use a bounce house, assigning supervisors to keep watch over what’s happening within the bounce house can prevent injuries that are results of negligence. See Bounce House Play – Keeping Children Safe.

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Parts-of-the-Eye-300x163Children, especially toddlers and infants, lack safety awareness. Because of this, it is important to provide close supervision of children and take reasonable steps to remove dangerous objects away from the reach of children.  For some children in schools, summer camps, day care centers, and other locations, a moment of inattention combined with a moment of danger can lead to serious and permanent eye injuries.

Summer camps, day cares, and schools contain many  items that could potentially injure your child’s eyes. When at play, children may come across potential hazards such as projectile toys and fake guns such as bb or pellet guns. Reminders to be cautious around these toys can prevent carelessness that may lead to eye injury. In sports involving small moving objects such as balls, pucks, or shuttlecocks, protective eyewear can protect your child’s during play. Be sure to only use protective eyewear that is ASTM F803 approved as the wrong pair of glasses may be more harm than good in the case of an eye injury. Certain items such as laser pointers, especially green laser pointers with shorter wavelengths, can permanently injure a child’s eyesight in a moment’s notice and should remain out of their reach. It is also important to be watchful around the house this summer as many common household items can cause serious eye injury in the hands of an unsupervised child. Paper clips, wire coat hangers, bungee cords, and rubber bands amongst others are examples of items that should be stowed away out of reach of children around the house. Chemicals and cleaners such as bleach should also be in secure spots out of reach to avoid an accidental spill that may end up in the eyes. Whenever performing yardwork, be sure to keep your child away from any flying debris involved (i.e. mowing the lawn). Even when gardening, it is wise to keep children far from and fertilizers or pesticides as they can cause severe damage if dropped into the eyes. Be wary when cooking as the kitchen also holds many an item that can cause injury to the eyes. Certain kitchen utensils such as knives should be kept in child-proof locations and shouldn’t be put down unsupervised. When cooking using hot oils, a grease shield can prevent any splashes from hitting your child in the eyes.

In the event of any eye irritation, a child care provider will need to be cautious in cleaning out their child’s eyes. Before cleaning out the child’s eyes, washing hands can prevent further irritation during the cleaning process. Avoid touching, rubbing, or pressing on the eye itself as the contact can increase irritation to the eyes. According to KidsHealth.org, flushing a child’s eyes with warm water for up to 15 minutes is a good way to try and remove any foreign bodies causing the irritation. If the foreign body still remains after 15 minutes, medical attention may be needed for its removal. Cautious preparation along with quick responses in the event of an incident may be the difference between the child suffering an eye injury so be sure to keep safety in mind throughout your fun summer activities this year!

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Pool-Safety-240x300With a mobile phone or tablet in our hands most of the day, we now live in a world of almost endless distractions. While technology is wonderful and helpful, it also makes certain activities a bit more dangerous for children.  Whenever a child is in or near water, there is a danger or risk of drowning. Adult supervision is key to the safety of children; however, the presence of an adult in the water area is a bit different than the attention of an adult.  If the adult is physically present in the area of the pool or beach, the physical presence may not mean much if the adult is otherwise engaged in the latest text, tweet, or e-mail on the phone or tablet.  Because of this, it is important to have as top of mind awareness the safety needs of the children.

Nearly 7 out of 10 drownings occur while an adult is present. In a life and death situation, people need to be alert and aware of their surroundings. However, the pool presents a myriad of distractions; if a person is swimming in the pool, they can be surrounded by splashing and other people, which could take their attention away from the child they are supposed to be watching. And, even if the watcher is out of the pool, they could be reading a book or looking at their phone at the precise moment they need to step into action and prevent a drowning. But drownings are almost always preventable; in fact, it is the leading preventable cause of death for children under the age of 5. So what steps must one take in order to prevent a child from drowning?

Among the most important preventions one can take is to have a Designated Watcher whose sole purpose is to keep an eye on the people in the pool. These people are reminded to not look at their phones or other distractions and not leave the pool area unless another person replaces them. While a Watcher is the best preventative measure, there are other choices one can make to improve pool safety. Installing a gate around the pool would keep small children from running into the water and drowning before an adult can intervene. It also helps to have a number of flotation devices, like pool noodles or kickboards, that can be thrown into the pool for a child to grab onto. If these measures are implemented, children will be markedly more safe in the pool this summer.

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book-abcIn communities throughout the United States, trampoline park businesses are springing up.  What seems like a safe, indoor activity can actually be quite a hazard to young children.  What makes things worse is that many of these businesses require a release to be signed by parents and guardians for children.  Some of the releases are valid; some are not. It depends on the language of the release, circumstances of the incident, and the laws of the state where the trampoline park is located.

In 2017, almost 18,000 people went to the emergency room due to injuries obtained at a trampoline park. The bulk of these injuries are explained by one thing—an unsafe transfer of energy. All the trampolines are connected, so the energy created from bouncing transfers through all the trampolines. When a child bounces, they can be launched higher than anticipated and land back on a surface which could be at a different height than anticipated. This transfer of energy can result in nearly 1,000 pounds of pressure, which can break any bone in a person’s body. There have been at least 6 deaths at trampoline parks since 2012.

Trampoline parks in the United States currently have no federal oversight, so every park is unique. While the majority of the businesses have patrons sign a release waiver, they can be different from park to park. These waivers typically address risks that are inherent to trampoline activities, like a sprained ankle. However, some parks do not even require a waiver. However, just signing a waiver does not always effectively preclude a parent from filing a lawsuit on behalf of the injured child for the personal injuries.  In the State of Florida, there exceptions for waivers signed by minors. For minors, those documents may be limited to non-commercial situations, such as charity or school events. Because trampoline parks are for-profit businesses, the waivers provided by them may not be enforceable.  If you or your child are injured at a trampoline park, contact an injury attorney for consultation or representation.

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Dresser-Tipping-Danger-191x300There is a common danger in homes, day care centers, and schools.  What would often appear as a safe environment really is not.  The danger presents itself in the form of unanchored furniture.  This danger can lead to serious personal injuries and even the death of a child. When furniture is manufactured and distributed, there should be an expectation on the part of the manufacturers, distributors, and retail stores that this very items will be placed in homes, day care centers, and schools where children may be present. As such, it is important that the furniture if manufactured in a way that makes the furniture safe and steady rather than a hazard in which a terrible tragedy could happen on any given day.

It has been reported by Consumer Product Safety Commission that over 300,000 furniture chests were recalled after a child was killed by an unanchored chest. It is reported that as many as 70 children every day are injured by fallen furniture and, every two weeks, fallen furniture results in the death of one child. Chests, desks, and cabinets can tip over if a child climbs on it and the piece is not secured or made properly. However, it’s not just climbing that can result in danger. In some cases, a piece of furniture can fall over if too many drawers are open.

The responsibility falls upon the manufacturer of the furniture to ensure that, even if unanchored, their pieces do not actively pose a danger to children. Some articles of furniture come pre-weighted so that consumers do not have to weight it to make it more safe. There is also a responsibility that on the part of the distributors and retail stores, like Target and Walmart. If distributors and retailers are aware of any past injustices or injuries caused by a certain manufacturer’s furniture, they should refrain from distributing them. The ultimate responsibility belongs to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC. They decide what products get recalled and when. If unweighted furniture seriously injures or kills one child, the CPSC should take action as quickly as possible to get it out of people’s homes.

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In pursuing a case or claim for a bounce house injury, there are four elements to establish:

Duty;
Breach of Duty;
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Hospital-Injuries-from-Fall-300x231There is a dangerous location in homes and day care centers that may not be so obvious. The location involves soft furniture like a sofa or bed. An infant or toddler left on a bed or sofa can suffer a fall, which can result in head injuries, extremity injuries and other injuries. The statistics from such injuries are quite alarming. Unfortunately, many parents, babysitters, and child care providers do not recognize the dangers of a fall from soft furniture until there is an injury or incident.

Newly released statistics demonstrate that falls from seemingly safe, soft furniture—like couches and beds—have now become the number one cause of injury for children ages four and under in the United States. Falls from soft furniture also present the leading cause of trauma for infants in the United States. These statistics, originally presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics’ annual conference this year, come from an aggregation of data from emergency rooms over the past decade. Analysis of these statistics reveals that injuries from soft furniture falls occur at more than double the rate of the second leading cause of injury to children younger than five years old—stairs. Analysis also indicates that boys tend to sustain these injuries more frequently than girls and that younger children present a greater risk of injury than older children.

Despite these alarming statistics, precautions can help reduce the rates of these injuries. Kids Health, a division of Nemours Children’s Hospital, recommends various techniques to reduce the likelihood of a child sustaining injuries from beds and sofas. These recommendations include: never leaving children unattended on soft furniture, removing children from soft furniture if one must leave for even a moment, holding children while on soft furniture if one uses a phone or another object that may distract from complete supervision, implementing bed rails, and teaching children how to properly climb on and off of soft furniture safely once they reach an appropriate age to learn this. Adults should also learn CPR and keep a first aid kit handy, just in case a child falls and sustains injuries. See Falls from Soft Furniture – Safety Precautions. 

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In day care centers in Wisconsin and throughout the rest of the nation, there is a population of children at risk for harm when placed in a day care center – infants. Working parents rely upon day care centers to provide a safe haven for their children. These parents do not have much of a choice due to work, financial, and personal constraints of life. A dedicated and professionally trained nanny would be nice but most people cannot afford such a luxury. While most infants placed in day care centers do just fine, others suffer personal injuries and even death in the very environment where the children are supposed to be safe and well cared for.

A recent tragedy in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin exemplifies the sad reality of these incidents. News reports indicate that a ten-year-old girl attending the same day care as a six-month-old baby boy allegedly abused a child after dropping him while holding him. It was reported that the young girl admitted to stomping on the baby’s head because the baby began to cry after she accidentally dropped the baby. Consequently, the infant sustained serious head trauma and died in the hospital two days later.

At the time of the infant’s tragic death, one adult and two other children were present at the daycare. This raises questions about supervision requirements in childcare facilities and the other safety requirements necessary in such places. The Early Childhood Knowledge and Learning Center recommends active supervision of all children in childcare locations, especially infants. It asserts that an adult should be accessible and supervising all children at all times. In order to achieve this, the Early Childhood Knowledge and Learning Center suggests that childcare facilities plan out staff positioning in rooms, continually scan and count the children in the room, listen for signs of danger, anticipate children’s behavior, and set up an environment conducive to all children remaining in the constant sight of an adult. Childcare centers should also separate children of differing age groups.  See Day Center Supervision Recommendations.