NY State Health Department Urges Parents to Follow Important Safety Tips to Keep Children Safe This Summer

Swimming Pool and Bicycle Safety a Must to Prevent Accidents

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 15, 2008) - For children, it wouldn't be summer without swimming in the backyard pool or riding bicycles around the neighborhood. These innocent activities can become dangerous if important safety tips are not followed - causing serious injury and even death.

State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines urges parents to follow simple swimming and bicycling safety tips to ensure that their children stay safe and healthy this summer.

"One of the most important things parents can do for their children is to educate themselves about child safety as well as follow simple safety tips to help prevent unnecessary injury," said Commissioner Daines. "Although summer is a time to relax, parents can't let their guard down even for a minute, because that is when accidents, which could have been prevented, will happen."

Shockingly, more than half of drownings in children under the age of 5 occur in pools owned by immediate family members. Drownings occur quickly, silently and often happen when a child is left unattended or during a brief lapse in supervision.

To reduce a child's risk of drowning, parents should do the following:

  • Make sure children are constantly supervised by an adult when they are near or in any body of water.
  • Enclose a pool, hot tub or spa with a fence that is at least 4 feet high with slats that are less than 4 inches apart.
  • Make sure the fence gate is self-closing, self-latching and out of a child's reach.
  • Remove floats, balls or other toys from the pool and surrounding are immediately after use. (The presence of these toys may encourage children to enter the pool area or lean over the pool and fall in.)
  • Prepare for drowning emergencies by having a cordless phone, emergency numbers, a first-aid kit and rescue equipment near the pool.
  • Learn CPR, first aid and water-rescue techniques.

In addition to swimming, bicycle riding can be dangerous for children when they ride a bike without a helmet. Each year, more than 600 people in New York State are injured while riding bicycles and are hurt badly enough to be hospitalized. Of the 40 percent of injured bicyclists hospitalized, almost half die from traumatic brain injuries.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children are particularly at high risk for wheeled-sport injuries and account for more than half of all bicycle-related injuries seen in emergency departments nationwide.

To prevent children suffering traumatic brain injuries, parents should follow the New York State law that requires all children under the age of 14 to wear an approved bicycle helmet while bicycling, in-line skating, riding a non-motorized scooter or skateboard.

Not only is it imperative for a child to wear a helmet, but the helmet must fit properly to ensure the best protection possible. Bicycle helmets, when fitted and worn correctly, can reduce the risk of head injuries by 85 percent and traumatic brain injuries by 88 percent.

To make sure a child has the proper helmet and that it fits correctly, parents should follow these tips:

  • Look for a bicycle helmet that has the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) sticker on it – which shows that the helmet meets CPSC's standard for safety.
  • Measure a child's head circumference and buy a helmet that is sized for that measurement.
  • For infants and toddlers, buy infant and toddler-specific bicycle helmets.
  • Make sure the helmet sits on top of the child's head in a level position, not tilted back on the head.
  • Adjust the straps for a snug, comfortable fit.
  • The helmet should not move side-to-side or front-to-back.
  • Teach children to always keep the straps buckled when riding.
  • Never use helmets designed for other purposes such as motorcycling or snowmobiling – as they may cause difficulty maintaining balance or may disrupt a child's vision, which can cause a fall or accident.

For additional safety information, contact the Department's Bureau of Injury Prevention at 518-473-1143, or http://www.nyhealth.gov/environmental/