Active recreation without risk: 5 rules for safe holidays with children
Statistics do not lie. Holidays are not only a time of relaxation but also of increased risk. How to rest and stay vigilant to make this summer safe? The MultiSport Foundation reminds everyone of potential summer threats and indicates the most important ways to minimise them.
Summer is a period when the number of various types of accidents and incidents naturally increases. Recreation by the water, strong sun and heat, summer sports and family trips – all this generates additional risk. During last year’s holidays, which lasted 68 days, there were almost 4,900 road accidents in which 407 people died. Unfortunately, in the summer of 2022 also 164 people drowned.
According to Dr. Tomasz Półgrabski from the MultiSport Foundation, it is worth being aware of the risk during holiday as well as sensitising and educating children in this regard. Here are some rules for a safe and active holiday:
1. Remember that water is a dangerous element
Great danger is associated with bravado and jumping into the water, especially in unfamiliar places where the water may be too shallow or hide objects lying on the bottom. For this reason, every year several hundred people in Poland suffer permanent damage to the spine, which can lead to extensive paralysis, and in extreme cases to death.
– Regardless of the current level of swimming skills, any activity connected with water should be carried out in guarded places with lifeguards and designated bathing areas. We also appeal to children’s guardians to pay special attention to their charges during water games. All it takes is a moment of inattention for a vacation to end dramatically. We must also remember the well-known truth that a person drowns silently, because during this 3-to-5-minute struggle to stay afloat a person in the water is unable to call for help. Therefore, we cannot rely solely on our hearing. Instead, we should keep an eye on our charges on a regular basis. Let us also remember not to let our children stray too far. Playing in the water is just as exciting close to shore – Says Dr. Tomasz Półgrabski.
2. It’s not a shame to wear a helmet
According to statistics published by Teton Gravity Research, we are more than three times more likely to die while cycling than by bungee jumping. However, this rather surprising statistic shows how important it is to protect ourselves against injuries, both on one- and two-wheels.
– Holiday time encourages physical activity, often with the use of sports equipment. When planning our active time, it is important to take care of protecting our life and health in the event of an unfortunate event. For example, when going to the mountains, especially with children, we should remember to wear appropriate footwear and anticipate changing weather conditions, taking extra layers of clothes with us. We should also take care of our safety during cycling activities. It amazes me how many people underestimate the most important part of our body. Wearing a helmet can save lives or protect us against permanent loss of health, absorbing up to 70% of the kinetic energy resulting from the impact. It is worth educating in this respect not only children but also adults who are role models for them. There is no trip too short to put a helmet on – points out Marek Plawgo, Olympian and multiple gold medallist in the 400 meters run.
Electric scooters are also often used during holidays, also by children and teenagers. The growing popularity of this type of urban transport affected last year’s police statistics. According to the report, in 2022, drivers of electric scooters caused 272 accidents.
– In this case avoiding hazards consists primarily in the use of personal protection: a helmet, and in the case of roller skates, also pads for elbows, knees, and wrists. When falling on an e-scooter, the most vulnerable part of the body is the head. Two people driving one scooter when it is difficult to maintain control of the vehicle is also dangerous and prohibited by law – adds Dr. Tomasz Półgrabski.
3. Always be careful with the sun
Heat, sun, beach, sunbathing – for many people these are inseparable elements of holidays. However, in this case we are dealing with a double risk. The first is sunburn and the second – the threat of overheating and, as a result, the so-called heat exhaustion.
– Heat exhaustion is a very dangerous condition that cannot be ignored because it can herald a sunstroke, which is a direct threat to health and life. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses too much fluid and salt due to prolonged exposure to the sun. The most common symptoms of heat exhaustion include profuse sweating, weakness or fainting, headaches, confusion, nausea, vomiting, and excessive thirst. The line between heat exhaustion and sunstroke may be small, but it is worth remembering that in the case of sunstroke the fever is usually above 40 degrees Centigrade, people stop sweating and their skin is dry and hot. Moreover, verbal and logical contact may be difficult. The face is very red. The first treatment in the case of heat exhaustion is to lower the body temperature.
The patient should be moved to an air-conditioned room and if this is not possible, it is recommended to find a cool place in the shade. In addition, the patient’s body should be moisturized. When we observe symptoms typical of sunstroke, we should immediately call a doctor or an ambulance – says Prof. Małgorzata Myśliwiec, paediatrician, endocrinologist and paediatric diabetologist.
Preventive measures include headgear, light and airy clothing, sunglasses with a UV filter and avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun (choosing shady places). Sunbathing should be avoided between 11:00 and 15:00 when the sun is most dangerous to the skin. On very hot days, the most vulnerable people, including infants, pregnant women, and the elderly, should stay outside until 11:00 and in the evening.
4. Prepare your holiday first aid kit
Both parents during family trips and children sent to camps should be equipped with first aid kits. In addition to the basic equipment (disinfectants and dressings, sun protection), it should include:
· Spray for possible burns
· Drugs taken regularly
· Prescription for drugs we take regularly or drugs we have already bought, especially when travelling abroad
· In the case of people with diabetes or other chronic conditions, a special ID
· Health and accident insurance
– We all care about holiday rest and return to duties with good memories. For this to happen, it is necessary to comply with several rules and implement good practices that increase the safety of us and our loved ones. We must pay particular attention to the expiration dates of dressings, drugs, and agents in our first aid kits. If we have a diagnosed chronic disease, for example diabetes, we should have special IDs, necessary drugs, medical devices (e.g. insulin pumps, sensors for continuous glucose monitoring, glucagon) for the duration of the trip – says Prof. Małgorzata Myśliwiec, paediatrician, endocrinologist and paediatric diabetologist.
5. Write down important emergency numbers
When travelling during the holiday season, we should remember about the emergency numbers. Even if we take the necessary precautions and are safe, we can witness a situation that requires the help of appropriate services. Importantly, such numbers as 112 (emergency number) and 116 (social services) are around-the-clock, free of charge and valid in the European Union.
Also remember to specify the place of the event as accurately as possible before dialling the number. In the case of a foreign city, we will know our location thanks to the numbering of buildings around us or characteristic landmarks such as monuments. If the incident happensat the seaside or in the mountains, information such as the beach gate number or the colour of the tourist route may be helpful. Let’s not forget about the possibility of determining our location using a smartphone.
Safe holidays and return to school
By following the above rules and having access to the necessary emergency numbers at hand, we will not only be able to spend our holidays safely but also return home safely and get ready for school!
About the MultiSport Foundation:
It was established by Benefit Systems, a national leader in non-financial benefits. The mission of the MultiSport Foundation, founded in 2021, is to popularise health and expand the availability of an active lifestyle among all social groups. The harmful impact of social inactivity, and on the other hand stereotypes related to sport still functioning in society, motivated the foundation to organise activities to overcome these barriers. In the foundation’s opinion, everyone, regardless of age or psychophysical abilities, should have access to sports infrastructure. Being able to exercise in an easier and more accessible way is undoubtedly a step forward towards the wellbeing of society.