Summer is finally here! It’s time to plan vacations, ride bikes, jump in the water, and enjoy summer BBQs with your family.

Little curly girl blowing dandelion in spring park.

Summer also means children are out and about and even more active than they were during the winter. As the Injury Prevention/Safe Kids VT Coordinator for The University of Vermont Medical Center (and a mom to an active toddler), it is extremely important that I try to prevent even one family from losing a child or having a child be seriously injured. Preventable injuries are the number one killer of children in the United States.

With the help of Safe Kids VT, I am creating my “High Five” safety list. We all have different safety priorities based on the ages and stages of our children. My High Five makes it easy for you to pick the safety actions that make the most sense for you and your family:

  1. I will make sure my child’s car seat is properly installed. Before going on a family road trip, visit a local fitting station to ensure that your child’s seat is properly installed. Putting a car seat in your vehicle and fitting your child can be tricky! In fact, it may shock you to learn that only 20 percent of people install a car seat correctly. Follow the link below to a list of Vermont fitting stations. Call for a free appointment. Learn more at BeSeatSmart.org. 
  1. I will A.C.T. to prevent heatstroke. We can all reduce the number of deaths from heatstroke by remembering to C.T.:
  • A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death: Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get inside the car on their own.
  • C: Create reminders: Put something in the back of your car next to your child, so you won’t forget him or her. You can use a briefcase, a purse, or a cell phone that you will need at your final destination. This is especially important if you are not following your normal routine.
  • T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.
  1. I will make sure my child wears a properly fitted helmet. Properly fitted helmets can reduce the risk of head injuries by at least 45 percent – yet less than half of children 14 and under usually wear a bike helmet.
  2. I will put all medications and household cleaning products out of reach and out of sight. Half of the two million calls to the Poison Center Hotline in 2011 involved children ages 5 and under. In fact, nine out of 10 poisonings occur at home. Make sure you have the Poison Center Hotline on speed dial: 1-800-222-1222.
  3. I will install safety gates and secure heavy, unstable furniture to the wall. Unintentional falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for children in the United States. In 2013, unintentional falls resulted in nearly 2,578,235 injuries that required treatment in an emergency room. These injuries resulted from activities such as climbing on furniture, playing near an unsecured window, falling down stairs or playing on playgrounds.

Click the link below to create your own High Five list! Have a fun and safe summer! Find more resources at SafeKids.org.

Christina Keating is the Injury Prevention Coordinator/Safe Kids Vermont Coordinator at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital.

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