The sun is shining, and school is almost out. That probably means your kids will be spending more time playing in the great outdoors. Unfortunately, your backyard or the local park could provide some hidden dangers. Read on about the hazards that lurk close to home.
According to a new study in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics, more than one million people went to the ER for trampoline-related injuries between 2002 and 2011. Of those one million people, 92.7 percent were 16 and younger, which means these popular backyard toys are particularly dangerous for your kids. If you own a trampoline, be sure to pad the bars framing the trampoline, institute a one-at-a-time rule, and always supervise your kids when they're on it.
Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death in children ages 1-4, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. If you have pool, and its deepest point is more than five feet, build a fence with a lock around it. Wading pools can cause problems, too, so empty them immediately after use.
3. Swing Set
Though this common playground toy is popular, and seemingly harmless, it can cause big injuries. According to recent data, about two-thirds of the nearly 47,000 injuries on home playground equipment occurred on swings. If you have children who are less than three years of age, be sure to buy a toddler swing, and provide a soft landing area at the base of the swings.
4. Standing Water
Puddles, birdbaths or water sitting in buckets in your backyard can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Because these little blood-suckers can carry a variety of diseases, including West Nile virus, it's best not to give them any excuse to live in your backyard.
Beware of these arachnids, as they can cause some serious, debilitating problems like Lyme disease. Most common in the warmer months, aka April-September, they are often found in wooded areas. If your kids plan on playing in the woods, use a repellant that uses 20 to 30 percent DEET for protection. As soon as they come inside, inspect their arms, ears, belly button, knees and scalp and try to get them to shower within two hours. If you see a tick, use tweezers to pull it off, then thoroughly clean the area. Caught early, ticks can wreak less havoc.
6. The Sun
Every sunburn your child gets increases his or her risk of getting skin cancer later in life. Even on overcast days, it's important to slather on broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Don't forget the tops of hands and feet and scalps – places that get a lot of exposure to the sun. Apply it 30 minutes before heading outside to make sure it works properly.
7. Picnic Tables
Pressure-treated wood, used to build decks and picnic tables, can contain arsenic. If kids often play and eat on these surfaces, it can increase kids' risk of cancer. Though this type of wood isn't as common anymore, older homes may still have it. To protect your kids, seal the wood annually with deck and wood treatments, and use a tablecloth whenever taking your meals outside.
-- Mara Betsch
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