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FOR RELEASE: May 10, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Summer is Trauma Season for Children

Summer is the most dangerous time of year for kids, according to a new study released by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. In a first-ever national report on seasonal trends of fatal and nonfatal unintentional injury among children, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign found that May through August account for nearly half of all injury related childhood deaths, with July being the most deadly month.

Unintentional injury remains the leading killer of children 14 and under. According to SAFE KIDS, this summer children will be rushed to emergency departments nearly 3 million times for serious injuries and an estimated 2,550 children will lose their lives due to an unintentional injury. Public health and medical professionals have long assumed that childhood unintentional injuries follow a seasonal pattern. During the summer months, when children are out of school, lack adequate supervision and spend more time outdoors, the risks to children are heightened.

SAFE KIDS tested this hypothesis by examining data of children ages 14 and under, who were injured or died as a result of an unintentional injury with a specific focus on drowning, motor vehicle crashes, pedestrian incidents, falls and bike crashes between 1991-1996.

Among the report's alarming unintentional childhood injury related-deaths findings:

  • Nearly half (42 percent) of all unintentional injury-related deaths occur during the summer months, a 25 percent increase above average;
  • 12 percent of all deaths occur in July;
  • 45 percent of deaths among children 10-14 years old occur during the summer;
  • 47 percent of all deaths in the mountain states occur during the summer months;
  • Drowning is the greatest summer risk for children ages 14 and under, increasing 96 percent above average during the summer.

In addition to national mortality data, SAFE KIDS looked at local morbidity data from seven different regions across the country.

"While we encourage children to be active and spend time outdoors, they need to understand the consequences of not taking safety precautions and should remember to wear a bike helmet and ride restrained in the car," said Martha Collar, coordinator of the Oklahoma SAFE KIDS Campaign, a program of the Oklahoma State Department of Health. "Parents need to know that regardless of their children's age, it is ultimately their responsibility to provide their children with the proper safety devices and adequate supervision."

National SAFE KIDS also commissioned polls looking at the safety attitudes and behaviors of adults and children (ages 7 to 12) and found that while a majority of parents (61 percent) understand that summer is the most dangerous time of year, most kids (56 percent) underestimate the dangers of this season. According to one poll, 70 percent of children said that their parents worry too much about them being hurt in an accident, while only 38 percent knew that "accidents" -- not violence (selected by 51 percent) - were the main cause of injury and death. According to the second poll, many parents are putting their kids at risk unknowingly. For example, the poll found that 33 percent of parents said they would allow their children under the age of 8 to ride a bike without adult supervision.

SAFE KIDS, with support from founding sponsor, Johnson & Johnson, has long recognized the increased risks to children over the summer by organizing National SAFE KIDS Week each May. Locally, the Oklahoma SAFE KIDS Coalition is sponsoring "SAFE KIDS Summerfest," an interactive safety fair attended by more than 1,700 children from a dozen Oklahoma City elementary schools that participate in the Schools for Healthy Lifestyles program.

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