When last summer rolled around, the world began shaking off the pandemic's shackles. But something unexpected and concerning unfolded: unlike the comparatively safer summers during the pandemic, a troubling spike in children's injuries emerged, casting a shadow over the newfound freedom.
With kids enthusiastically embracing their regained liberties and venturing into outdoor activities, the summer of 2022 was a jarring reminder of the need for constant proactive safety measures: children’s emergency room visits rose 14% compared to the summer of 2021.
Following up on our past reporting, we analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). We hope this new information helps you understand the products and activities most commonly responsible for children's emergency room (E.R.) visits, as well as ways to keep children safe all summer long.
We defined “summertime products” as items typically used during the summer months in and around the home, such as grills, fireworks, lawn care equipment, water toys, lawn games, and fixed installations like decks, pools, and patios. While these products can pose a risk to adults, they are particularly hazardous for children, who may not be aware of their potential dangers.
Compared to the previous year's report findings (2021), the season of sun and play proved to be more hazardous than expected, especially for children.
Last summer, over one million children went to ERs between June and August due to injuries from summertime products. In fact, children accounted for 30% of all ER visits between June and August.
Compared to the previous summer of 2021, there was a significant 14% increase in children’s ER visits, emphasizing the growing concern for children's safety during these warmer months. As shown in the graph above, ER visits aren’t as common in winter and peak in the spring and summer.
Summer presents a perfect opportunity for children to take advantage of outdoor play. Still, parents and caregivers need to remain vigilant of the potential dangers that accompany the season. Our analysis of ER visits between June and August 2022 highlights the top five summertime products that caused the most injuries for children.
By Number of ER visits between June-August 2022
|Product||Number of ER visits|
|Unspecified swimming pools||17,796|
|Monkey bars or other climbing playground apparatus||16,610|
Overall, swimming/pools, bikes, trampolines, and monkey bars were the primary culprits behind most emergency room visits for children last summer. These activities and products tend to be popular among kids during the warmer months, providing ample opportunities for accidents.
A combination of factors, such as lack of supervision, insufficient safety measures, and children's natural inclination to test their limits, contributes to the increased risk of injury in these areas.
Parents can help their children avoid unnecessary injuries during the summer months by paying close attention to these common hazards. Teaching kids how to use these products safely and responsibly is crucial, as is providing them with the necessary safety gear and guidance. In addition, consistent adult supervision and reinforcement of safety rules will ensure children enjoy their summer adventures while staying safe and injury-free.
The table below illustrates the most common summertime products that cause injuries among children, categorized by age groups: 2 years or younger, 3-10 years old, and 13-17 years old. By examining these differences, we can better understand the risks for each group and provide parents with targeted prevention strategies.
Trampolines are the leading cause of injuries in this age group, which is quite different from the older age groups, where swimming and bicycles are top hazards. Porches, balconies, open-sided floors, floor openings, and other playground equipment are more dangerous for this age group than the other groups since these little ones aren’t able to navigate them as bigger kids can. To prevent accidents among this vulnerable group, parents can:
Swimming and bicycles dominate the list of hazards for this age group, indicating that these activities become more popular and potentially more dangerous as children get older and more active. Monkey bars or other playground climbing apparatus are major hazards for children aged 3-10, while they are not on the list for the youngest age group or teenagers.
To keep this age group safe, parents should:
Fishing emerges as a top hazard for teenagers aged 13-17, which is not a common risk factor in the younger age groups. This indicates that children may encounter different risks as they age and explore new activities. Unspecified swimming pools remain a consistent hazard across all age groups, but the risks may differ depending on the child's age and the activities they engage in around the pool. To help prevent accidents among this age group, parents can:
By understanding the specific risks of each age group and implementing tailored prevention strategies, parents can help ensure their children enjoy a safe and fun-filled summer.
Based on our analysis of the 2022 NEISS report, we have identified the products with the most significant increases in injuries among children during the summer months (June, July, and August) from 2021 to 2022. The products with the most significant increases in ER visits among children include camping equipment, frisbees, treehouses, and diving boards.
Let's explore why these products are likely to cause injuries and examine some real-life accounts from the data that illustrate how children get injured by these products.
Camping activities can expose children to falls, cuts, and burns. In one account from the NEISS database, an 11-year-old was setting up a tent when he fell on a tent spike, resulting in a laceration of his right lower leg. To prevent injuries, it's essential to supervise children during camping activities and teach them proper techniques for setting up and dismantling equipment, especially campfires.
Frisbees and boomerangs can sometimes cause injuries when children play without proper caution. A 10-year-old girl reported that her glasses hit her face while playing frisbee, causing a laceration of her left eyebrow. Parents should encourage children to be aware of their surroundings and take necessary precautions when playing with flying toys, such as removing eyeglasses.
While providing a fun and imaginative play space, treehouses can pose risks due to falls and structural instability. A 7-year-old fell from a treehouse approximately eight feet to the ground, resulting in a closed head injury. Ensuring that treehouses are well-constructed, regularly maintained, and equipped with safety features like railings can help minimize the risk of injuries.
Pool diving boards can be especially hazardous if children engage in risky behavior or are unaware of proper diving techniques. A 6-year-old boy attempted a flip off a diving board at a community pool, hitting the back of his head and back on the board, leading to a head laceration. Parents should ensure children follow safety guidelines and only use diving boards under adult supervision.
Accidental ingestion of hazardous substances can also result in emergency room visits. For example, an 18-month-old girl drank some lighter fluid and experienced vomiting but recovered in the ER. Parents should store dangerous substances out of children's reach and use child-resistant packaging to prevent such incidents.
By understanding the risks associated with these products and the circumstances that lead to injuries, parents can take appropriate measures to ensure their children's safety during summertime activities.
While pools provide hours of enjoyment, it's essential to remember that they can also present risks to children. In fact, between 2021 and 2022, injuries from diving or diving boards increased a staggering 72%, swimming pool slide injuries rose 49%, and swimming pool chemical injuries rose 37%.
Parents and caregivers must remember that pool time also comes with potential hazards. To help ensure a fun and safe swimming experience for your children, we've compiled a list of pool safety tips based on the pool products most likely to cause injuries. The tips are arranged in descending order, starting with the products that caused the most injuries in the summer of 2022.
When it comes to swimming, ensuring your children have age-appropriate swimming lessons is essential. Encourage them to swim with a buddy or under adult supervision, and provide life jackets or flotation devices as needed. It's also crucial to teach children about potential hazards, such as swimming in areas with strong currents or sudden drop-offs. Establish rules with your children before you take them swimming, and enroll them in swimming lessons if possible.
Regular inspection and maintenance of built-in swimming pools and their surroundings are necessary to ensure safety. Using slip-resistant materials for the pool deck can minimize the risk of falls, and clearly marking pool depths can prevent diving-related injuries. Creating a physical barrier, such as a pool fence, can also help prevent accidental access to the pool area.
Teaching children proper diving techniques and allowing diving only in deep water can help reduce the risk of injuries related to diving or diving boards. Ensure diving boards are correctly installed, maintained, and used according to manufacturer guidelines. Consider removing diving boards if they pose a significant risk to children's safety.
Keep pool chemicals locked away and out of children's reach. It's crucial to teach children about the dangers of pool chemicals and the importance of not touching them to avoid accidental ingestion or exposure.
Empty portable pools when not in use to prevent drowning accidents. Closely supervise children in or around portable pools to ensure safety.
Ensure slides are properly installed, maintained, and used according to manufacturer guidelines. Teach children to slide feet-first and wait for the person ahead to clear the slide landing area to avoid collisions and injuries.
Install sturdy ladders with handrails for safe entry and exit from above-ground swimming pools. Remove or secure ladders when the pool is not in use to prevent unsupervised access.
Though children are particularly vulnerable to pool injuries, they don’t just happen to children: Adults accounted for 35% of all ER visits from pool products and swimming last summer! This serves as a reminder that pool safety is essential for everyone, not just children. Parents should set a good example by following pool safety guidelines.
With a significant increase in emergency room visits due to accidents involving summertime products, parents and caregivers must proactively address these hazards. By understanding the risks associated with specific activities and age groups, parents can implement targeted prevention strategies to minimize accidents and injuries. Consistent adult supervision, adherence to safety guidelines, and proper use of equipment can go a long way in helping children enjoy their summer adventures while staying safe and injury-free.
For this project, we analyzed data from the 2021 and 2022 National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), gathered by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. This system tracks the number of emergency room visits caused by consumer products. This data is compiled from a select number of participating hospitals nationwide and is weighted to make the information nationally representative. The following items were included in our list of summertime products: