The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, it’s time to get out and play! Spring time is perfect for outdoor activities. But there are dangers of springtime that every parent should be aware of. Children can get injured quickly and in ways that can be life threatening. Keep the kiddos safe this spring by knowing about the dangers.
Children of all ages are susceptible to these dangers—from babies to toddler to teens. There are steps every parent can take to keep their family safe this spring.
From threats in the water to poisonous plants and dangerous games, there are many unique ways children are in danger this spring. A few extra precautions can keep children from broken bones, burns, drowning and even abductions.
Parents sometimes get too comfortable with their own backyard or neighborhood—forgetting just how dangerous these places can be for curious children. Springtime is the perfect time to look at these areas with new eyes to ensure they’re safe for children of all ages.
At each stage of development, children are presented with new challenges to keeping them safe. Babies are extra sensitive to the sun. Toddlers can climb up to open windows. Preschoolers can get into chemicals put up high. School-aged children can easily get into bike accidents. Each stage presents a special set of challenges—new ways parents must protect their children.
Take time to consider each child’s stage in development. Consider all the ways they could get injured this spring. A few extra minutes to read through all 15 dangers of springtime could save a child’s life.
15 Lawn Mowers
Lawn mower injuries can be especially severe for children. They happen quickly and can be avoided with some general safety tips.
Start by clearing the yard or area of stones, twigs and toys that could be thrown by the lawn mower blades. While mowing, children should stay indoors or out of the area at a safe distance. Children should not ride the mower along with a parent or adult as they could easily fall and become injured by the mower.
Make sure that the mower is in good condition before beginning. Keep all guards down to block access to the blades. While mowing, make sure to watch out for your children or neighborhood children. Children are often drawn to lawn mowers and may come running up to see what’s happening.
14 Grills And Fire Pits
Spring time is a great time to start grilling. Grills and fire pits, though, can be especially dangerous for kids. Many injuries happen when children trip and fall into fire pits that appear to be out but are still hot.
The Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin outlined some general safety tips that will help to keep families safe this spring.
- Keep a 3 foot kid-free-zone around grills and fire pits. This will keep the children at a safe distance from the heat. Teaching children this rule helps to point out how dangerous these things can be. It also helps children to become more aware of their surroundings.
- Keep dry leaves or brush away from fires. These items can cause the fire to spread quickly. Put stones around a fire pit to keep the fire from spreading unintentionally.
- Keep a fire extinguisher and water handy. This can help in case a fire gets out of control. When you’re finished with the fire, douse it with water. The coals can remain hot for another 24 hours so make sure to keep kids away.
13 Poisonous Plants
Spring is the perfect time to get out and play. As children play outside more, it’s important to be aware of poisonous plants in your area.
Some bulbs, flowers, stems, seeds and plants can be poisonous. One part of a plant may be fine to eat (like a potato) while another part could be harmful (such as the potato leaves). It’s important to be knowledgeable before trying something.
Some plants will cause skin irritations while others are poisonous if ingested. It’s important to know what plants you have in your backyard. When adding new plants, keep the tags from the nursery so you can easily identify them.
Teach children to ask an adult before picking or eating a plant or berry. While it’s great for them to explore outside, it can be dangerous if they are not careful. If your child eats something you’re not sure about, contact your local poison control. If they are in immediate danger, call 911.
12 Ticks And Other Parasites
Ticks can be dangerous when your family is playing outside. According to WebMD, most tick bites occur from early spring to late summer.
Although a lot of the time tick bites don’t cause serious health problems, for a few unlucky people, they just might. In the first 3 days following a tick bite, a more serious issue may occur. Serious diseases can be contracted through a tick bite. These diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, Tularemia, Ehrlichiosis, Relapsing fever, Colorado tick fever, and Babesiosis.
Many of these diseases cause flu-like symptoms including headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, fever, and rash. These conditions are serious and require medical treatment.
To protect your family from ticks, treat pets that go outside. Cover your skin if you’ll be in the woods or long grass. Treat your yard for ticks if it is a common problem in your area. Use insect repellent and check your head and body as well as your children when you come in from playing outside.
11 Children Left In Cars
One of the greatest warm weather dangers is leaving a child in a car. Children have died while in the car in temperatures just above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It can happen quickly and to any parent so be aware of the dangers.
A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult, making them especially susceptible to heat stroke. Heat stroke can lead to brain damage and even death. The temperature inside a car can increase 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. As parents, we might think that we’d never leave our child in the car. It’s not always intentional, though, when it happens.
Sometimes parents or caregivers forget that the child is in the car when they arrive at work or at home. Busy schedules and lack of sleep can cause this to happen. Other times children get locked in a car as they were playing in it.
10 Bike Injuries
As the weather gets warmer, kids are itching to get outside and ride their bikes. Bike riding is a great way to exercise and have fun outside. It can, though, be dangerous for the riders.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in 2010 there were 800 bicyclists killed in the United States. Just over 500,000 bicyclists, sustained injuries that required emergency department care. About 26,000 of the injured bicyclists had traumatic brain injuries.
This is why wearing a helmet while riding is so important. A helmet can help to protect bike riders in the event of an emergency. Unfortunately, less than half of riders wear helmets.
To help keep your family safe this spring, think ahead before you get the bikes out. Teach your children to ride on the right side of the road (with the traffic) or on a designated bike trail. Bike riders should use the traffic signals just like the cars. Make sure everyone is equipped with a helmet.
9 Drowning Accidents
Drowning is a major cause of concern for families with small children. According to the CDC, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1-4 years old, following car accidents. For young children, most accidental drownings happen in swimming pools. Drownings can, though, happen in as little as an inch of water.
Ornamental or decorative ponds, buckets of water, baby pools and even toilets are places with enough water to drown a small child.
Sometimes, children will survive drowning accidents. The outcome can be dire though. Nonfatal drowning injuries can result in severe brain damage. These accidents may cause long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning problems or the loss of basic functioning.
Keeping a close eye on children when they are outside is of the utmost importance. For children who are preschool age or younger, an adult should be close enough to touch the child.
8 Severe Weather
Severe weather often increases in the spring time. Damaging winds, hail, thunderstorms, flooding and tornadoes are more common and intense. Make sure your family is ready for severe weather by creating a plan. Know where you will take cover in the event of an emergency. Stay aware of local forecasts to get the earliest warning of severe weather.
Make a plan for how your family will get into contact in the aftermath of a storm (for example, will you meet somewhere if you can’t call each other after a tornado?).
Know the signs of severe weather common to your area. If an alert goes off, make sure to take cover and protect your family. Practice what you will do before the severe weather actually hits.
The CDC recommends keeping an emergency kit with the following supplies;
- A list of important information: telephone numbers, insurance and property information, medical information
- First Aid Kit
- Flashlight and battery-operated weather radio
- 3 to 5 day supply of food and water
- blankets and person hygiene items
7 Car Accidents
As warm weather hits, we may be more likely to load the family in the car and hit the road. Spring break, summer vacations, or just heading to the beach can increase the traffic on the roads. We might be ready to feel the wind in our hair but it’s still important to hit the road safely.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, car accidents are the leading cause of death in children. Properly restraining children in car seats can greatly reduce the fatality of car accidents.
Putting children in car seats in the back instead of the front can reduce fatal injury by about 75% for children up to age 3. For children up to age 8, the fatal risk is reduced by almost ½ by properly restraining them in the back seat.
6 Mosquito Bites
Spring rains create perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Families traveling should be especially cautious in areas affected by the Zika virus. So far, Zika infections have been reported in Texas and Florida.
For the most part, Zika is spread through mosquito bites. Symptoms of this disease include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. Pregnant women should be especially careful avoiding mosquitoes because the Zika virus is known to cause birth defects. The virus can also spread through sexual contact. If you might get pregnant, your partner should also take precautions against zika.
West Nile Virus (WNV) can also be concerning to parents as there are about 10,000 cases a year reported across the United States. WNV usually has no symptoms. It can sometimes have flu-like symptoms. According to Dr. Sears, 1% of cases “invade the nervous system and lead to encephalitis or meningitis.”
Keep your family safe from mosquitoes by:
- Staying indoors at dusk and dawn when they are more active
- Wear long sleeves, pants and socks to keep mosquitoes off of skin
- Use insect repellent
5 Sun Burns
In the first few weeks of nice weather, it can be easy to forget that the sun can still be dangerous for our families. Often we find ourselves unprepared as we hit the back yard to play. Sun burn happens in the springtime just as it does in the summer. It can also happen on cloudy or overcast days.
Sunburn can happen in as little as 15 minutes of being in the sun. The effects might not be noticed until hours later. Repeated sun burns can lead to skin cancer later in life. To keep your family safe from sun burns, try to have them wear protective clothing to limit their exposure. Protective clothing includes SPF shirts, long sleeves, sunglasses and hats.
Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside so that it has time to soak into the skin. Sunscreen should at least be 15 SPF but with children’s sensitive skin a higher SPF is probably better.
4 Window Falls
As the weather gets nicer, more families open up windows to let the spring breeze in. This can lead to dangerous window falls for kids.
According to Stanford Children’s Health, 3,000 children under 5 years old are injured in falls from windows in the United States each year. Sometimes children fall through open windows while other times they lean on screens that are not strong enough to hold them.
Rajashree Koppolu, a nurse practitioner at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford explained that most of the injuries happen with children ages 1-4. At this stage, they are mobile enough to get up to the window but lack the judgment needed to stay away from it.
Injuries from a window fall can range from fractured bones to death depending on the height of the window and the surface the child falls onto. To keep your kids safe, don’t open windows more than 4 inches. Also consider installing window stops or guards to prevent falls and keep unused windows locked.
3 Spring Cleaning
Throw open the windows, clean out the closet and give your home a good spring clean. Spring time is a great time to give the house a deep cleaning. But along with the spring clean comes chemicals that could be harmful to your children.
Make sure to keep cleaning chemicals away from children. Chemicals should be kept in a locked cabinet or high enough that your little ones can’t get to it with a stool. Make sure that you don’t leave a bottle unattended while you’re cleaning. It only takes a split second for a child to get his hands on something he shouldn’t.
Keep the number for poison control posted. In the United States, the nationwide number is 800-222-1222. In an emergency situation, call 911 first.
Common dangerous chemicals you might get out this spring could be bleach, paint, laundry and dishwashing detergent, flea and tick products, insect bombs, carpet cleaner and antibacterial cleaners to name a few.
2 Trampoline Safety
Trampolines can be great fun. But they can also be very dangerous. Thousands of children are injured each year on trampolines. Children under 6 are at the greatest risk of being injured. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no parents get trampolines (mini or full sized) for their homes.
Some of the common injuries of trampolines include broken bones, concussions, and head and neck injuries that can lead to paralysis or even death.
Children can be injured in a variety of ways on a trampoline. They may land wrong while jumping or flipping. They can be injured while trying stunts. A child may be hit by another person or fall from the trampoline. A person may also land on the springs or frame.
If you do decide to go against the AAP recommendations and get a trampoline, make sure that there is adult supervision at all times. Only allow one person to jump at a time and make sure all equipment is in good working order.
1 Outside Supervision
Getting the kids outside to play is part of the great fun of springtime. Bikes, sidewalk chalk, swings—the fun is endless outside in warm weather.
But there are also many dangers to watch out for when you children play outside. At the beginning of the season, it’s important to make sure your outdoor play area is cleaned up and ready for the kiddos. Ensure broken glass, sharp objects and other hazardous items are cleared from the area.
Children need to be supervised outside. They are at risk for leaving the yard, getting bit by a stray dog or running into traffic. When children are left alone to play outside, they are also at an increased risk for abduction.
An increase of heroin or other drug needles have been found in parks across the country. Make sure to give the park a scan before allowing your child to play. A little extra planning and precaution can make outdoor play safe and fun.
Sources: Center for Disease Control, Ask Dr. Sears, KidsHealth.org, Stanford Children’s Health