Tips for keeping active/fearless kids safe

By Kathryn Dunmore, Canadian Red Cross
When one of my three sisters had my nephew, a couple of us aunts couldn’t wait until he was old enough to learn how to ride a bicycle or a skateboard, or learn a new sport - perhaps in a way to relive our own rambunctious youth. However, upon walking, it became clear he had inherited the family’s natural clumsiness (as well as a tendency to walk into objects) and the importance of first aid resources were first considered for this growingly active kid.
Then along came my niece – a strawberry blond, doll-like spitting image of my gentle, peace-keeping sister – who took us by complete surprise with her fearlessness and defiance in readily pushing her boundaries and limits. As soon as she could walk, she was jumping, leaping, climbing, falling, stretching, rolling, bouncing, reaching and pushing every boundary – ones set by adults were defied with a look that dared us to stop her. Her inevitable injuries often result in first aid application.
J.J. is giving one of her looks after being asked not to put the phone in her mouth     J.J. putting the phone in her mouth – at least it’s not rocks.

Pictured left, J.J. is giving one of her looks after being asked not to put the phone in her mouth. Pictured right, J.J. putting the phone in her mouth – at least it’s not rocks.

Whether you know a kid who is naturally clumsy or precociously adventurous, these tips and resources will help keep them safe:
Protect as best as is possible to help prevent injuries in activities such as biking or skateboarding:
  • Ensure children wear properly fitted and secure helmets, elbow/knee pads, and other gear depending on the sport.
  • Use reflective stripes on clothing and bicycles, and use flickering lights (even during daylight hours).
  • Keep away from busy streets and parking lots; know and obey traffic rules when cycling on the road.
  • Stay close – if children or youth are cycling or skateboarding any distance without parental supervision, ensure they have a buddy, agree in advance on a return time and stick to a route that’s familiar, illuminated and avoids secluded areas.
 Be ready for an emergency:
  • Have a first aid kit handy – when scrapes and bruises inevitably happen, it’s good to be prepared with basic essentials. In my niece’s case, the bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, tweezers, instant ice packs and even eye patches have come in useful. Including items such as a list of the family’s doctor’s contact information and photocopies of health cards are useful for incident-responding aunts.
  • Get first aid training – having essential knowledge such as what to do in an emergency like choking is helpful when your panic levels are high. Find a first aid course near you.
  • Download the Red Cross First Aid app for free to have useful resources at your finger tips – it includes step-by-step instructions to guide you through everyday first aid scenarios and safety tips to help you prepare for emergencies.
  • Find more first aid tips and information – knowledge is power especially when your heart is racing and instinct in essential care is needed.
Keep active kids cool:
  • Drink plenty of cool fluids — this is the most important step you can take. Young children can become ill in hot, humid weather faster than healthy adults.
  • Avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day.
  • Know the humidex rating — it combines the temperature and humidity to indicate how hot, humid weather feels to the average person.
  • Have them wear a hat (J.J. doesn’t like hats so ones with straps keep them on longer) and loose, light-weight clothing.
  • Apply kids’ sunscreen and not just the parts of baby skin exposed at the time as multiple wardrobe changes could mean different skin exposure.
  • Slow down activities as it gets hotter and don’t exercise or play for too long at a time.
  • Take a lot of breaks in a cool or shady area to let little bodies cool off.
  • If you see a child showing signs of heat exhaustion, take immediate steps to help, such as calling for help (EMS/9-1-1).

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