Summertime, Kids and Injuries

As parents we look forward to all types of summer time fun with our kids. In addition to fun there is also an element of risk and potential injury associated with many summer activities. Injuries can be avoided and/or minimized through common sense, watching your kids and discussing and warning them about the dangers associated with various summer time activities. Below are some common injuries that occur as well as some injury prone locations that you may or may not be aware of.

Head Injuries – Numerous activities pose a risk of head injury including, bicycles, running sports, inline skating, skateboarding, or playing hockey or football. Helmets are the best way to avoid or minimize a head injury. In Rhode Island, pursuant to R.I.G.L. § 31-19-2.1, “Any person fifteen (15) years of age or younger who is operating or who is a passenger on a bicycle or who is using or operating a skateboard, roller-skates, scooter or inline skates on a public highway, bicycle trail or path, shared use path, park and/or recreational area, school property or on any other public right of way shall wear a helmet.”

Burn Injuries – Kids can get burned by the sun, open fires, grills, hot surfaces and fireworks.

Sun Burns - Overexposure to the sun can cause a mild first degree burn that results in redness and pain a few hours after exposure and generally becomes worse over the next 24 hours. In some cases the burns can be as bad as second degree which may result in blistering. The main treatment of sunburns is pain control which includes use of an acetaminophen or ibuprofen containing product for a few days. You can also use moisturizers and a 1 percent hydrocortisone cream three times a day, cool baths or wet compresses, and drinking lots of fluids. If peeling occurs you can continue to apply a moisturizer until the skin heals.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends easy options for protection from UV radiation [1]:

• Seek shade, especially during midday hours.
• Wear clothing to protect exposed skin.
• Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
• Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
• Use sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 30 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.

Open Fire Burns – The ever increasing popularity of fire pits has resulted in many more children coming into close proximity to open flames. To minimize and avoid burns around open flames:

• Wear clothes made of natural fibers which are much more fire safe. This will prevent minor accidents from becoming major ones. Polyester and other synthetic fabrics are highly flammable and especially dangerous on kids around fire.
• Make sure to keep young children under close supervision when there's an open flame or hot surfaces.
• Take the opportunity to teach your kids how to put out a fire properly - by letting it burn out and dousing it with sand. They'll need to know this in future if they ever want to go camping themselves, so you'll be handing down a valuable skill.

Fireworks – Pursuant to R.I.G.L. § 11-13-1 ground-based and hand-held sparkling devices shall be allowed at all times throughout the state for persons at least sixteen (16) years of age. The primary safety concern for children using hand held sparklers is severe burns. At the core of sparklers, the temperature can reach 1800°-2000° Fahrenheit (982 - 1093° C). A third degree burn can result from temperatures as low as 220° F (104° C). For this reason, adults should always show children how to hold sparklers and instruct them on safe handling. Young children who cannot control themselves should never handle sparklers and older children should always have adult supervision.

Fireworks Safety Tips from the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) [2] :

• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
• Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
• Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.
• Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
• Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
• Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
• Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
• After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
• Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

Fractures & Sprains

The harder kids play, the harder they fall. The fact is, broken bones, or fractures, are common in childhood and often happen when kids are playing, participating in sports or using anything with wheels. Most fractures occur in the upper extremities: the wrist, the forearm, and above the elbow, because it's a natural instinct for kids to throw their hands out in an attempt to stop the fall.

How Do You Know if It's Broken?

Not every fall will result in a broken bone. The classic signs of a fracture are pain, swelling, and deformity (which looks like a bump or change in shape of the bone). However, if a break isn't displaced (when the pieces on either side of the break are out of line), it may be harder to tell. Some tell tale signs that a bone is broken are:

• You or your child heard a snap or a grinding noise during the injury.
• There's swelling, bruising, or tenderness around the injured part.
• It's painful for your child to move it, touch it, or press on it; if the leg is injured, it's painful to bear weight on it.
• The injured part looks deformed. In severe breaks, the broken bone might poke through the skin.

What Do You Do?

If you suspect that your child has a fracture, you should seek medical care immediately.
Do not move your child and call for emergency care if your child may have seriously injured the head, neck, or back, or if the broken bone comes through the skin. Apply constant pressure with a clean gauze pad or thick cloth, and keep the child lying down until help arrives. Don't wash the wound or push in any part of the bone that's sticking out.

Amusement/Water Parks [3]

The most common amusement ride injuries stem from impacts and body strains caused by the ride's normal motion, such as whiplash or smacking against part of the carrier as the ride makes a sudden turn. Females seek treatment for amusement ride injuries more often than males, with adult females well in the lead. Head, neck, and lower trunk (back) are the most common injury sites for amusement rides.

• Go-Karts - The most common injuries are caused by collisions with other karts and impacts with barriers.Victims are twice as likely to be male. Boys age 7-12 suffer the most injuries.
• Waterslide - The most common injuries stem from impacts and body strains caused by the ride's inherent slip-and-slide nature, such as smacking against part of the flume. Eleven percent (11%) of state reports indicated that two patrons collided while sliding. Boys suffer more injuries than girls during childhood. Teenage boys are treated least often for waterslide injuries; adult females are treated most often. Head, face, and back are the most common injury sites.
• Inflatable Devices - The most common accidents on inflatable devices involve patrons falling or colliding in a way that causes injury. CPSC hospital data indicates that eighteen percent (18%) of victims, mostly very young children, were injured falling out of the inflatable onto a harder surface. Children 12 and under account for the vast majority of injuries. Boys are injured more frequently than girls.
• Roller Coasters - Are, by far, the most commonly cited ride in both accident and injury reports for patrons over the age of six. Kiddie rides are cited most often for children 6 and under. Spinning rides are the second most frequently cited ride type.
• Go-kart injuries show the highest rate of hospital admission at 8% compared to 6% for inflatable devices and 2% for amusement rides and waterslides.

General Findings from Reported Medical Injuries (All Amusement Devices)

• Kids 1-6 suffered more injuries to the head or face than any other body part, 40%) total. This compares to 24% for kids 7-12, 18% for teens, and 12% for adults.
• Neck injuries increase markedly from the 1-6 age group (4%) to the 7-18 age group (11%). The rate drops slightly for adults to 7%.
• Injuries to upper and lower trunk (mostly back injuries) overwhelmingly affect adults (30% of total). Rates for children increase with age: 6% for kids 1-6, 10% for kids 7-12, 12% for teens.
• Males suffer more strains and sprains. Teenage boys are at highest risk for sprains and strains when all amusement devices are considered together.
• Females suffer more lacerations and internal injuries. Adult females are at highest risk for fractures, contusions and abrasions, lacerations and concussions.

We at D’Alessandro & Wright hope that you and your children have a happy and safe summer. If an injury does occur, know that we are here to help you through it.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jules J. D'Alessandro, Esq.
Jules J. D’Alessandro is a father as well as a fierce advocate for the injured and those oppressed by insurance company and corporate greed. As the co-founder and senior litigation partner at D'Alessandro & Wright, I am responsible for all civil litigation; Jury trials, Mediation and Arbitration of Personal Injury and Business litigation matters at D&W.

Copyright D'Alessandro & Wright
More information about

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

Find a Lawyer

Find a Local Lawyer