The WellSpan Spotlight

Summer safety and kids: playgrounds, bikes, trampolines, and sports

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Outside play, fresh air, and exercise are the ingredients for a healthy summer for kids.

“Kids definitely need to get outdoors and move around,” says Dr. Zachary Geidel, a WellSpan primary care physician who is certified in sports medicine. “With some commonsense tips, they can stay injury-free so they can make the most of their summer vacation.”

Help kids stay safe with these tips from Dr. Geidel.

Don’t monkey around

More than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger seek emergency treatment for playground injuries each year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Geidel has this advice:

  • Choose the right playground equipment for your child’s age and skills. 

  • Look for playgrounds with surfaces made from wood chips, rubber, or shredded rubber to lessen the chance of injury.

  • Dress your child appropriately, staying away from clothing with drawstrings/cords or purses that can could become caught on their neck and pose a choking hazard.

  • Use equipment properly. Don’t climb up slides and go down feet first. Don’t stand or kneel on swings. Don’t jump from swings or high equipment.


Protect your noggin

Anytime anyone gets on anything with wheels (bicycles, scooters, skates) and rides it for any distance, wearing a helmet is a must. Set a good example by wearing one yourself!

The National Safety Council estimates that bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 60% and brain injury by 58%.

Make sure bikes and helmets fit kids properly and are worn squarely on top of the head and cover the top of the forehead. Follow smart rider rules: stopping at intersections, riding in the same direction as traffic, wearing brightly colored clothing, riding in a single file, and keeping both hands on the handlebars

Think twice about trampolines

Trampolines look like fun but can be very dangerous to kids.

In fact, more than 800,000 children sustained trampoline injuries in the U.S. between 2009 and 2018, most of whom were under the age of 16, according to a 2022 report in Pediatric Emergency Care. About a third were arm and leg fractures, most commonly arm bone breaks resulting from a fall on an outstretched hand.

Flips, twists, somersaults, bouncing off the side of the trampoline, landing on the frame or springs – all of these can be dangerous.

Just one wrong landing can end in serious injuries, which are more common in smaller kids,” Dr. Geidel says. And never let your kids bounce on a trampoline with other kids at the same time, which can lead to crashes and collisions, sprains and strains, head injuries, and even broken bones.”

Sport safely

Summer is the season for sports camps. If your child doesn’t do an organized activity, pickup games that involve running and being outdoors in warmer weather also are a good way to stay in shape for the fall season.

To stay in safe shape:

  • Drink enough water. A general rule of thumb is to cut your child’s weight in half (up to 100 pounds) and ask them to drink that number of water in ounces in the day. So, an active 80-pound child should drink 40 ounces of water a day, drinking before, during, and after activities.

  • Warm up before activities by doing 5 to 10 minutes of aerobic activity followed by flexibility exercises.

  • Make sure your child is eating healthy food and sleeping enough hours, as well as resting after intense activity.

  • If your child sprains or strains anything, follow the RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevate.

  • Make time for an off-season, engaging in other activities other than one particular sport, to reduce burnout and injuries.

  • Get ready for fall with our sports physicals by going here.

When summer bummers happen, we are here to help treat kids’ unexpected injuries with quick, walk-in urgent care, which treats kids ages 3 months and older. Find your closest location, and wait times, here.

Need a sports expert to take a look at something? Our Urgent Orthopedics care locations are found here.