Fun outdoors this summer can turn downright dangerous and result in a trip to the emergency department for kids and parents who are

not careful. Each year, nearly 12 million children and adolescents younger than 18 years old visit the ER for injury-related reasons.

"Kids are playing outdoors, being active, playing sports and getting exercise, and that's the way it should be," said Dr. Alex Rosenau, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "But sometimes active play can get overly aggressive and careless, resulting in injuries."

Injury is the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 9,000 children died from injuries in 2009 related to incidents, such as car crashes, suffocation, drowning, poisoning, fires, and falls. Leading causes of injury-related emergency visits for both men and women include falls, as well as unintentionally being struck by another person or an object.

"We realize you can't avoid every injury," said Dr. Rosenau. "And you can have the peace of mind of knowing that emergency physicians are ready to treat you or your child in the event one occurs. But there are some things you can do now to limit your chances of hurting yourself or someone else."

Wear Protective Gear — Helmets are the most common form of protective gear to protect a person's head and brain. These should be used if playing a number of sports, including baseball, softball, biking, skateboarding, and inline skating, just to name a few. Wearing protective padding in contact sports is also always a good idea.

Prevent Drowning —Supervise young children at all times, learn CPR, and make sure children wear life jackets when boating or swimming in lakes or the ocean.

Show Respect for Others — For example, make sure children don't throw objects that can harm people or dive in pools where somebody may be swimming below.

Play by the Rules — If children play sports outdoors, make sure they listen to coaches and respect the rules of the game. A cheap shot can seriously injure someone.

Don't Play Injured — If a child already has an injury, let it heal before playing again. Make sure to check with a doctor and get clearance before restarting physical activity.

For information about the symptoms of childhood emergencies, visit

Source: American College of Emergency Physicians,

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