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A Reminder from CT Kids' Safety Expert about Summer Dangers

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Monday, July 5, 2021   

HARTFORD, Conn. -- COVID-19 remains a threat to many, including kids under 12 who can't get a vaccination, but a Connecticut children's safety advocate is reminding folks that isn't the only risk to kids this summer.

Amy Watkins, manager of Watch for Me CT at the Connecticut Children's Injury Prevention Center and director of Safe Kids Connecticut, said many preventable injuries, and even deaths, happen in the summer months, including heatstroke from being left in a car.

And while the Northeast is seeing a break in extreme heat for now, Watkins said that doesn't mean the risk is gone.

"You never want to leave your kids in the car, to run into a store or do anything like that," Watkins advised. "It doesn't matter if it's in the shade, it doesn't matter if it's 60 degrees outside, but especially these hot summer days, it takes only minutes to get a car to be over 100, 120 degrees."

According to Safe Kids Connecticut, every year about 55 children in the U.S. die of heatstroke from being left in hot cars. Drivers are also asked to keep their parked cars locked at all times, so kids can't get in on their own, and if a child is seen alone in a car, to call for help.

Drowning is the top cause of accidental death among kids between ages one and four. Watkins suggested designating a person who stays within arm's reach of young swimmers to keep a close eye on them.

"Often, drowning deaths are not because of a lack of supervision, but a lapse of supervision," Watkins explained. "So it just takes a couple of minutes of distraction, not watching children, for something to happen."

The Zac Foundation noted there are disparities in drowning rates, which increase with age, and also some racial disparities. Black teens drown in pools at more than four times the rate of white teens.

And riding a bike or playing outdoors bring their own risks. Watkins reported in Connecticut, more than 1,500 pedestrians and 550 cyclists are involved in crashes with vehicles every year. She added the key to preventing incidents is for parents and the public to stay alert.

"That's the thing about the summer is, there's so many opportunities to get out there and have fun and explore, but that brings with it opportunities for people to get injured," Watkins concluded.

Safe Kids Connecticut recommends children be taught to walk on sidewalks, cross at street corners, and always look both ways before crossing. More tips are online at ctsafekids.org.


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