Keeping Kids Safe While Playing Sports this Summer

By Erin McNeill

Once the weather starts to get nicer, kids will begin spending more time outside engaged in activities such as bike riding, swimming and organized sports. As they run around, ride their scooter and play baseball or tennis, they will inevitably get bumps and scrapes, which is a normal part of childhood. It’s up to you, however, to prevent the bigger injuries and illnesses related to these activities. Here are a few tips to get you started while you plan out your summer activities.


    • Pre-season physicals – Before your child begins a new sport or activity, or even heads off to camp, it’s important to gain the all-clear from your pediatrician. Sports and camp physicals, much like a well-child visit, allow your physician tosports check over your child and declare them healthy enough for physical activity. They will be able to spot any trouble areas that may cause issues in the future.


    • Know and follow the rules of the game – Knowing and following the rules of the game will ensure that your child has a positive experience in their chosen activity. Rules ensure that everyone is playing fairly, reducing the risk of accident and injury.


    • Dress appropriately – Help your child dress in layers, especially in the spring and fall when the weather can be variable throughout the day. It’s best to start with a base and add layers on top of that, such as a fleece or waterproof layer for warmth and to keep dry. When it’s hot out, it’s best to dress in light, breathable clothing. Your child should also wear shoes appropriate to the activity that they are playing.


    • Check that the coaches are First Aid and CPR certified – It’s important that coaches are able to respond quickly and accurately in an emergency, should there be one. A quick reaction time saves lives and reduces further injury.


    • Wear protective gear – Many sports require certain protective gear to wear while playing to keep athletes safe. Shin guards, well-fitting helmets and padding provide protection for injury-prone body parts and can help prevent your child from sustaining any injuries.


    • Hydration – Always bring a water bottle with you to all activities! Have your child drink a glass of water about 20 minutes before an activity and then every 20 minutes while participating in an activity, especially as the weather grows hotter. Dehydration is a real risk to active children and can be easily prevented!


    • Wear sun protection – Apply a sunscreen especially formulated for sports and sweat before you leave the house to give it time to soak in and provide optimal protection. You should reapply frequently while outside, especially with heavy sweating or if your child has been in the water. Provide hats and sunglasses for activities that can accommodate those accessories; it’s important to keep sun out of the eyes and face as much as you can!


    • Warm-up and cool-down – Give children time to stretch and get their body used to the activity that they will be participating in; this will help prevent injuries and strains on their bodies while playing. After the game, give them a cool drink of water and allow them to take it easy to let their body recuperate.


    • Sit out if ill or tired – Illness and tiredness can greatly contribute to sports-related injuries and illness. Allow your child to take a break if they aren’t feeling 100%.


Following these tips will help prevent sprains and strains, growth plate injuries and heat-related illnesses while your child is out on the field playing this summer. Allow them to have fun, but teach them the importance of safety at the same time. By keeping their body healthy and active now, they are guaranteeing an active lifestyle as they grow!


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