Participation in sports helps your child stay physically fit while teaching them sportsmanship and discipline. However, any sport can carry the potential for injury.
It is important that kids know sports safety, as well as follow the rules and wear the proper safety gear.
Helmets, mouth guards, and other protective equipment should be used at all times. Make sure they are the correct size and worn properly. Even with proper protection, injuries may occur.
What You Should Know About Sports Safety
The most serious is a head injury, which could cause a concussion. If there is a loss of consciousness, convulsions, a change in behavior, or if one pupil is larger than the other, seek medical attention immediately. Even if your child remains conscious after the injury, other symptoms may show the signs of a concussion, such as:
- dazed or stunned appearance
- confused behavior
- slurred speech
- looking clumsy or uncoordinated
- sensitivity to light or noise
- nausea or a headache
If you suspect your child has a concussion, take the following steps:
- Remove your child from play.
- Have your child evaluated by a health care professional. Do not try to judge the seriousness of the injury yourself.
- Allow your child to return to play only with permission from a health care professional.
Despite all safety measures, your child may still experience a sprain or a broken bone. If you suspect it is a sprain, remember RICE:
- R – Rest until the injury is less painful & swelling goes down
- I – Ice for 15 minutes at a time, 6-8 times a day
- C – Compression bandage for 2 days
- E – Elevate injury above the heart to decrease swelling
If a snap or grinding noise is heard, it may be a break, but only an X-ray can tell for sure. If you suspect the bone is broken, apply a cold compress, make a splint and seek immediate medical attention. If the bone has broken through the skin or the injury is to the back or neck, do NOT move the child. Call 911 and wait for emergency personnel.
With any injury, and especially a head injury, returning to play too soon is not a good idea. Your child could re-injure themselves, causing long term or permanent damage, or might try to compensate and end up injuring another body part. Remind your child to be honest with you and their coaches if they’ve been hurt.
The Nemours Safety Store
Nemours is proud to offer low-cost safety products with injury prevention education to the community. We have sports helmets and protective pads available for purchase. The store is located inside Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.
Winter can bring on its own set of injuries and illnesses. Injuries may be the result of special cold-weather activities, like ice skating, sledding, snowboarding, and skiing. Children need to eat well and dress in layers before playing in cold weather. Follow these tips before letting your child out on a snow day or play winter sports.
Make sure you know about the hill where they will be playing. Is it steep or covered with trees? If so, it’s not a good location for sledding. Also, watch out for hills where there are rocks or those that are near busy roads. It’s a good idea to supervise when your kids are sledding.
Ice skating and ice hockey
Make sure your children avoid sports injuries by wearing supportive and properly fitted skates. In addition, rinks are always safer than ponds for skating. If you only have access to a pond, check the thickness of the ice yourself to prevent falls through the ice and supervise your children while they skate.
Because the machines are more powerful and go faster than ever, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises that snowmobiles are inappropriate for use by children and young adolescents and should not be used by children younger than 16 years old. They also recommend that riders over 16 years old be licensed and that helmets be worn at all times. If you do go snowmobiling, make sure your children follow these safety steps:
- Operate at a reasonable and prudent speed for trail conditions.
- Respect snowmobilers and yield to those who have the right
- When crossing a roadway, make sure the way is clear in both directions.
- Travel in groups and make sure someone knows where the snowmobilers are going.
- Do not snowmobile on frozen bodies of water.
Staying Warm and Safe in the Cold
- Kids should dress using layers of clothes. If the top layer gets wet from snow or freezing rain, they can peel off some clothes down to a dry layer. Avoid cotton clothing because it won’t keep the kids very warm. Stick with wool or other fabrics. Waterproof pants and jackets are great top layers because they don’t let the wetness seep into the other clothing. Don’t forget warm socks and boots to keep feet dry and a hat to top it off.
- Make sure your kids have a healthy snack before going out. The calories will give their bodies energy in the cold weather.
- Protect your kids’ faces with sunscreen. Even though the idea of sunburn in January can seem odd, snow can reflect up to 85% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
What To Do If Your Child is Over-Exposed to Cold Weather
Frostnip is an early warning sign of the onset of frostbite. It leaves the skin white and numb. If you suspect your child has frostnip, bring them inside and remove all wet clothing. Immerse the chilled body parts in warm (not hot) water, 104 to 108 degrees Fahrenheit, until they are able to feel sensation again.
Frostbite is more dangerous and usually occurs on fingers, toes, ears, noses, and cheeks. The area becomes very cold and turns white or yellowish gray. If you suspect frostbite, take your child immediately to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Learn More About Sports Safety
Trusted insights from KidsHealth.org, the #1 most viewed health site for children, created by the experts at Nemours.
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