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Playground Injuries, Fall Injuries, Drowning and Children: What Healthcare Providers Need to Know

By: Terri McKinney

As springtime nears and the weather warms, millions of children nationwide will transition their recreational activity from the playroom to the playground. While healthcare professionals and first responders prepare for this seasonal shift, it’s important to be aware of some of the risks that this increase in outdoor activity can pose.

Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death in children older than 1 in the United States. While many unintentional injuries occur in the home, the outdoors brings with it a wide swath of other possibilities for childhood injury.

Child injuries on playgrounds

Every year in the United States, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As parks become more appealing in the springtime months, it’s important for healthcare professionals and first responders to be aware of the potential risks of increased playground activity. Here are some facts about child injuries on playgrounds.

  • Girls sustain injuries slightly more often than boys. Girls sustain 55 percent of playground injuries; while boys experience 45 percent of injuries.
  • Children ages 5 to 9 visit emergency departments for playground injuries more often than children in any other age group.
  • Most public playground injuries happen on climbers; most home playground injuries are caused by swings.
  • Almost half (45 percent) of playground injuries are severe. The CDC defines severe as fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations and amputations.

Children – injuries from falls

While falls can occur both indoors and out, the springtime’s increase in outdoor activity delivers significantly more opportunities for falls to happen. Here are some facts about children and fall injuries.

  • Falls are the number one cause of non-fatal injuries in children ages 0 to 19.
  • Approximately 8,000 children per day (2.8 million per year) are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for fall-related injuries.

Children –  drowning

While pools won’t open for a few more months, the warmer weather will make beaches more welcoming and frozen-over lakes more apt to thaw. Because drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 4, it’s important to be aware of the risks that more access to open water can bring. Here are some facts about children and drowning.

  • Three children die every day as a result of drowning. For every child who dies, five receive care for submersion injuries in an emergency department.
  • Among children ages 1 to 4, most drownings happen in home swimming pools.
  • Approximately one in five deaths from drowning occur in children 14 or younger.

Preparing to respond to playground injuries, fall injuries and drowning

When these types of injuries result in shock, respiratory distress or cardiopulmonary arrest, quick response by a healthcare professional or first responder with knowledge of the most effective lifesaving interventions is essential. Health Ed Solutions (HES) provides training on pediatric assessment info in its online pediatric advanced life support course, and offers CPR/AED certification guidelines in other online courses.