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Inside Pediatrics Podcast

Birmingham, Ala. (June 20, 2024)—The first day of summer means families will spend more time on the road, whether in a vehicle for a road trip or children spending more time outdoors on ATVs.

“In the summer, we see a lot of broken bones and cuts that need stitches,” said Dr. Alicia Webb, pediatric emergency physician at Children’s of Alabama. “We also still see those injuries from people falling off ATVs as well as injuries from motor vehicle collisions.”

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, motor vehicle crashes are responsible for more than half of unintentional injury deaths in Alabama.  Experts say many of these deaths can be prevented. 

“It is very important to remember that your child should be in an appropriately sized car seat for their age,” said Webb. “If they are less than two years old, that car seat should be facing the rear of the vehicle, and older children should be wearing their seatbelts every single time on every single trip.”

If you are unsure about how to install your child’s car seat or booster seat, the Health Education and Safety Center at Children’s of Alabama hosts bi-weekly car seat safety clinics. Nationally certified Child Passenger Safety technicians and instructors are available to help answer parents'/caregivers' questions and educate them on how to properly use and install their child’s car seat. To make a free appointment, call 205-638-9900 during normal business hours, Monday through Friday.

During the summer, teenagers also like to spend a lot of time driving or riding all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). These off-road vehicles are common in Alabama and used for things like farm work and riding on trails. There are no federal regulations or age limits when it comes to riding ATVs. Instead, each state has its own guidelines and laws. In the state of Alabama, registration is required. However, you do not need a driver’s license or certification to drive an ATV. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages children and teenagers aged 16 and younger from driving or riding on ATVs.

“It is important to make sure that you remember that an adult-sized ATV is meant to be ridden by an adult-sized person, so no one under the age of 16 should be riding those adult-sized ATVs,” said Webb. “Most ATVs are designed to be ridden by only one person, and those side-by-side ATVs should have a seatbelt included.”

Webb says doctors in the South tend to see an increase in ATV-related injuries when the weather warms up. These injuries can range from minor bruises or scrapes to burns, broken bones, or head injuries. 

Another popular summer activity for parents is taking a family road trip. Family vacations can be challenging and fun, but health experts advise parents to consider safety when packing.

“First aid kits are a great thing to pack in your travel gear,” said Webb. “Some simple items to include in a first aid kit include band-aids, gauze, alcohol pads, and Neosporin or antibiotic ointment.”

Safety experts also warn parents to take precautions regarding their medication and cosmetics. Once you reach your destination, remove anything harmful from the suitcase and store it away from children. Medication should be locked up. Call the Alabama Poison Information Center at 1-800-222-1222 with any concerns or questions. This nationwide hotline is available 24/7; the person who answers the phone will be a registered nurse, physician, or pharmacist.

For more information on staying safe in the sun, heat, or water, click here