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Safety spotlight: Summer fun
June 28, 2017

Summer is in full swing, which means endless opportunities for fun! It also means additional opportunities for injury. We caught up with Dr. Mark Marinello, medical director of our pediatric intensive care unit and dad of four, to find out about some of the common summertime injuries he sees in the hospital along with tips for preventing them.

Q: What’s it like to be a critical care doc and dad? Is it hard for you to see children coming in with injuries?

I love being a physician and I love being a dad. Being a dad has helped me be a better doctor. I go to work every day with the goal of providing the best care possible – care I would want my children to receive.

Q: What are the most common summertime injuries your team sees in our pediatric intensive care unit?

Summer is a time when many families are enjoying the outdoors and warm weather. Common injuries include head injuries from not using helmets on bikes or motorized recreational vehicles, submersion injuries including drowning in pools and rivers, and burn injuries from grills or outdoor fires. Car accidents are the cause of many injuries and, unfortunately, we are also seeing a rise in gunshot injuries from unsecured weapons in homes.

Q: Are any of these injuries preventable? If so, how?

While accidents happen, many of the risks of these injuries can be greatly reduced.

Helmets are a simple yet very effective way to prevent head injuries. It’s important to use the appropriate helmet for the activity and make sure it fits properly to ensure maximum protection.

Adult supervision of children swimming, the use of life jackets for younger swimmers, and an awareness of water conditions are all good ways to reduce the risk of injuries while on the water. Keep in mind the ability level of swimmers of all ages. We have seen teenagers who have drowned after getting in the water without knowing how to swim.

Awareness of a child’s proximity to a fire or hot grill is helpful in preventing burn injuries. A child should never be left unattended by a backyard fire or camp fire.

Ensuring that children are in the proper safety seats helps in minimizing injuries related to car accidents. Before hitting the road, whether it’s on summer vacation or just around the corner, make sure your children are safely secured in the right car seats for their size and that the seats are installed correctly. There are resources available to help ensure car seat safety.

Lastly, gun locks and safes are extremely effective in preventing accidental gunshot injuries. Don’t forget about places your children might be visiting, such as grandparents’ and friends’ houses. Ask the adults in these homes if they have guns and, if so, make sure they are properly secured.

Dr. Marinello enjoys time with his wife and four young children.

Q: Are children of certain ages more prone to these injuries than others?

Injury is the leading cause of death for children of all age groups. Toddlers and young children are naturally curious and are typically unaware of potential dangers. Older children and teenagers are naturally learning independence and developing their own decision-making skills. Teaching children and teens to be aware of their surroundings is still the best thing parents can do. We also need to help them understand risks and steps they can take to keep themselves safe.

Q: Any tips parents should keep in mind in the event of injury?

Parents typically have a good sense of when to bring their child to the hospital. Injuries resulting in nausea, vomiting or loss of consciousness should be evaluated by a medical professional. Burn injuries also need to be evaluated.

Q: What would you share with parents about CHoR’s designation as a level 1 pediatric trauma center and the capabilities of our critical care team?

We have the highest designation as a certified trauma center. Our team of professionals is focused on one thing – caring for your child. There are many people who make up this team – trauma surgeons, emergency medicine providers, child life specialists, social workers, radiology techs, critical care providers – all with expert certifications in pediatric care. We also have experienced critical care attending physicians staffing the hospital 24 hours per day. We bring together expert physicians from multiple specialties and work as a seamless team to meet the unique needs of each child. I love being a part of this team and I trust this trauma center with my own children.

Q: Anything else you want to share with parents and families?

Get outside, have fun and be safe this summer!

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