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Safe kids in southeastern Utah

There is a lot to keeping kids safe and healthy during sports activties.

Spring is here and summer is quickly approaching. Youth sports are going, and our children are anxious to be outside. There are some precautionary measures that all parents, grandparents, coaches need to be aware of, for their own children and for the other children on the team.

Children ages 5 to 14 account for nearly 40 percent of all sports-related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments. Brain injury is the leading cause of sports-related death to children. The most common types of sport-related injuries in children are sprains (mostly ankle), muscle strains, bone or growth plate injuries, repetitive motion injuries and heat-related illness.

Safe Kids Southeast Utah, as part of Safe Kids, USA, would like to share five important sports safety tips that all coaches, parents and league organizers can use to prevent sports related injuries.

*Pre-season medical screening. Every child should receive an annual pre-participation physical evaluation. These exams may prevent or treat any underlying conditions the young athlete may have.

*Safety gear. To prevent acute injuries, children playing sports should have access to and consistently use well-maintained safety equipment during both practices and games.

*Qualified coaching. Athletic coaches should be trained in both first aid and CPR, have a plan for responding to emergencies and have current knowledge of both safety rules and proper equipment use. Sports programs with certified Athletic Trainers on staff are ideal because they are trained to prevent or provide immediate care for athletic injuries.

*Proper conditioning. To prevent acute and overuse injuries, coaches should teach young athletes proper routines for both warm-up and cool-downs before and after practice and play. Sixty-two percent of sports-related injuries occur during practice rather than in a game.

*Hydration. Athletes should be encouraged to drink water before, during and after practice and competition.

*Rest. If young athletes are very tired or in pain, coaches and parents should encourage them to rest, not to play, as the valuable recovery time can help prevent acute and overuse injuries.

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