DOI News

For Immediate Release: Contacts:
August 24, 2009 Kristin Milam
Johanna Royo
Back to School Injury Statistics and Safety Tips
RALEIGH -- Up to 25 percent of the more than 14 million unintentional injuries to children each year happen in and around schools. That's not too surprising since more than 53 million children in America spend almost a quarter of their waking hours on school property. Parents and caregivers can use the following information to help keep their kids injury free this school year.
School Buses--While school buses are one of the safest ways to travel, an estimated 5,000 children are injured each year in school bus related accidents. Many of these injuries occur when children are entering or exiting the bus, because the driver has a blind spot of about 10 feet around the bus. This is sometimes difficult for younger children to understand. Half of all school-age pedestrians killed in bus-related crashes are between 5 and 7 years old.
  • Teach children to wait until the school bus stops, the door opens and the driver says it's safe to board.
  • Show children they should never walk behind or close to the side of the bus.
  • Teach children to never run across the road to catch a school bus.
  • Pay extra attention and never speed when driving in a school zone and around school buses and pedestrians.
Playgrounds--Playground injury is the most common school-related injury among children ages 5-14; about 80 percent of the most severe injuries are falls. Whatever the cause, children are at greater risk when unsupervised and according to a recent study, are more often unsupervised on school playgrounds than in parks or childcare centers.
  • Remove hood and neck drawstrings from all children's outerwear to avoid strangulation hazards on playgrounds.
  • Check playgrounds where your children play. Look for age-appropriate equipment and hazards such as rusted or broken equipment and dangerous surfaces. Report any hazards to the school or municipality.
  • Make sure children remove bike helmets before using any playground equipment.
Sports--Sports injuries can be serious; almost 75 percent of all school-related spinal cord injuries occur during sports. And, surprisingly, most sports-related injuries occur during a practice rather than the game. However, a recent Safe Kids survey shows that parents and kids don't take safety during practice as seriously as they do during a game.
  • Before beginning a sport, all children should receive a general health exam and an orthopedic exam.
  • Make sure your children always wear appropriate safety gear and equipment that fits properly. Protective gear is sport-specific and may include mouth guards, shin pads, helmets, elbow pads, knee pads, safety goggles, etc.
  • Teach children to warm up and stretch before playing.
  • Dehydration in young athletes is a serious concern. Make sure your kids drink adequate liquids prior to, during and following athletic activities. Know the symptoms of dehydration: thirst, weakness, headaches, dark-colored urine or a slight decrease in body weight.
  • Prepare for an emergency by providing your child's coach with important information: parents' names, addresses, phone numbers, and any medical conditions or allergies affecting the athlete.
Safe Kids NC reaches out to parents, caregivers and children in 58 counties served by 36 coalitions across the state. Through these coalitions and partnerships, more than six million people have access to Safe Kids NC programming. Learn more at the Safe Kids NC Web site.
-- SKNC --