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Around Our Town...Safety

05/01/2005 - Every year, more than 3.5 million children ages 14 and under suffer sports injuries serious enough to require medical treatment. Nearly half these injuries result from solo activities such as cycling, skating and skateboarding; however, roughly one out of four participants in youth soccer, football or baseball has been injured at least once, along with about 15 percent of kids playing basketball and 12 percent of kids playing softball. In 2004 over 200 kids were discharged from the Wyoming Medical Center Emergency Room because of sport related injuries.

In team sports, most injuries — 62 percent — occur during practices, not games. Always insist that your kids wear the same protective gear, do the same warmups and take all the same precautions when they practice as when they're getting ready for a game.

When we think of sports injuries, we think of dramatic tackles or falls or being hit in the head, but young athletes are also at risk of strains and repetitive-motion injuries. If the coach recommends certain types of warmups, it's not just to make your child a better athlete — it will help keep your child from getting hurt. Repetitive-motion injuries account for nearly half of all sports injuries to students in grade 6 and above.

SAFE KIDS of Central Wyoming, a program of the Wyoming Medical Center Foundation recommends these precautions for all children playing or practicing any individual or team sport:

Before signing up for a sport, get a general physical exam.

Always wear appropriate protective gear for the activity — for practice as well as games — and make sure it's the right size and properly adjusted.

Do your warmups. Again, if it's important before a game, it's important before practice too.

Have adult supervision. Make sure responsible adults know and enforce the safety rules of the sport and are trained in first aid and CPR. Also, make sure the field is in safe condition.

Never "play through" an injury. Get immediate help from a coach or trainer and be sure to mention everything that hurts or aches.

Follow the rules. In most sports, the rules are based not only on sportsmanship, but safety.

Last but not least: stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water or electrolyte sports drink before and during the activity, and rest frequently during hot weather. A child can lose up to a quart of sweat during two hours of exercise! And kids get overheated more quickly than adults and cannot cool down as easily.

For details about staying hydrated and the dangers of dehydration, visit www.defeattheheat.com , an educational site cosponsored by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, Gatorade and the National Athletic Trainers' Association.

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