Articles Posted in Day Camps / Summer Camps

4_ToysIn Florida and other States, day care centers should essentially be safe havens for children. Hard working parents deserve the comfort and peace of mind knowing that a child is safe and protected in a day care center. Unfortunately, far too many children are injured in the very places (day care centers / child care centers) where the children should be otherwise in a safe learning environment. In the aftermath of a child injury at a Florida day care center, a parent is faced with many questions, challenges, and stresses. It is at this time that a Florid Child Injury Lawyer can provide some help, guidance, advice, and, when necessary, legal representation. David Wolf has over 26 years of experience. From this first day on the job as an attorney to the present day, he has spent the duration of his entire legal career to the protection and enforcement of the legal rights of children. He is the author of a number of books including the book titled – Florida Day Care Center Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents. This book has chapters on Indoor Facilities, Outdoor Facilities, Playgrounds, Staffing, Emergency Procedures, Incident Reports, and other topics. You can get this book for free at Florida Day Care Center Injuries.

When evaluating a potential day care center case, there are four elements to establish:

1 – Duty;

Stroller - Child Safety - Personal Injury
During the summer and other months in warm weather States, children are at risk for heat related illnesses including by not limited to hyperthermia.  It is important that summer camps, schools, day care centers, and other child care providers understand that children respond and handle the heat much differently than adults.  Furthermore, a child does not necessary verbalize or even recognize himself or herself when there is a risk of serious complications from the heat. This is especially true for infants, toddlers, and special needs children who are not communicative.   According to Dr.  Ross Tobleman, an emergency medical director based in Texas, “Little children can certainly get into trouble very quickly without having us recognize the signs that they’re getting trouble.”  This is a reference to heat and medical complications.   It should be noted that the metabolism and body of a child works much differently than that of an adult.  You can read more about this topic at Heat Related Illnesses Harder to Detect in Children.

In this article, it is interesting to note that strollers and other confined spaces can present a real risk of danger, medical complication, and even death to children in the heat of summer and other months.   Since children do not sweat or control body temperature the same as an adult, a glance at a child may lead a child care provider to believe that all is well because the child is not sweating profusely or appear to be that hot or overexposed to the heat.  The truth is that child care provides, on many occasions, do not and cannot see that a child is truly a risk and approaching a critical overexposure to the heat.   Some times, it is only the child’s outward signs of trauma, arrest, or other significant issues that finally alerts the child care provider that there is a problem.

In Florida, child care providers, summer camps, day care centers, schools and other entities have a duty to keep a child out of harm’s way.  One known risk is the Florida heat.  Make sure that a child – especially infants and toddlers – are provided with proper ventilation when in confined spaces like a stroller. Furthermore, as we have seen far too many times, a child should not be left unattended on a school bus or school van without air conditioning.   Let’s make sure that this point is clear.   A child needs to be supervised at all times and should never be left on a bus or van alone – air conditioned or without air conditioning.

Kids Block Spelling Dad As Symbol for Fatherhood And ParentingOne basic duty of every day care center is to supervise the children to make sure that the children do not wander out of the facility and into harm’s way.  The fact is that most day care centers are located on or near a busy road or expressway.   The busy roads are dangerous.  The parking lots are also dangerous to children especially toddlers who have very poor safety awareness.  Keeping a child safe should be a priority for every day care center.  Unfortunately, some day care centers are not so diligent with the supervision of the children.  Doors are left open, facilities are not kept in good repair, and most importantly supervision is lax.  Many day care centers put profits or income over the safety and supervision of the children.  Many hire low paying personnel with little or no training.  Furthermore, many such day care center workers are not motivated to put in a hard day’s work and do as little as possible just to get through the day and to the next paycheck. Of course, there are many hard working child care providers out there who work diligently to keep children safe and well supervised during the day.
When a child wanders out of a day care facility, the consequences can be disastrous and even deadly.  What if a chid wanders away from a day care center?  Can the center be sued?  These are common but excellent questions. There are four basic elements to bring forth a legal case or lawsuit against a day care center.
1. Duty;

Very High Scorching Temperature Shown On A Big Thermostat

Hot Cars – Risks to Children

In Florida and other states, the heat during the summer months as well as other times of the year present a constant danger to children being transported by day care centers, summer camp, schools, parents, relatives, and friends.  It is vital that children are removed from a vehicle when the destination is reached.  A quick run in to the dry cleaners, school, convenience store, and other locations can result in serious personal injuries and even death to a child left behind.   For this article, the focus is heat related complications and illnesses; however, a child, who is left alone, in a vehicle can choke on small object, get his or her head caught in a power windows, become entangled or even strangulated by a seat belt, mobile phone wire, or other object, and otherwise get injured or harmed in other ways.  It is important that all hazards are removed form the vehicle and that a child is never – ever left unattended in a vehicle.   The safety of the child should always take priority over the convenience of the driver or adult supervisors.   In this day and age, we just have too many distractions in place that take our attention away from what is the most important job at hand – the proper supervision of children.   Here are some tips to keep in mind and use when transporting children.  Following these and other safety measures can save a child from the harm or injury associated with heat exposure.

*Never ever leave a child unattended in a vehicle;

First Aid Kit - Child InjuryOver the summer and other times of year, children can spend hours of time enjoying the fun and activity in a bounce house.   It should be noted that with any bounce house activity or similar activity – a child could suffer injuries through no fault of the property owner, management company, or owner / renter of the bounce house.  Injuries happen; however, it should also be noted that many bounce house related activities result from a lack of proper set up and / or a lack of proper adult supervision. Let’s discuss an example.  Let’s say a homeowner rents a bounce house.  The homeowner’s four year old and his friend (also 4 years old) are playing in the bounce house.  The homeowner decides to leave the children alone to cook a meal and check on some e-mails.  While the boys are outside in the bounce house, another child, who is 12 years old and much larger than the other children, visits the home and bounces in the bounce house with the 4 year old boys.   The 12 year old is doing a back flip and lands on the 4 year old child who was visiting the home.   The boy suffers a fractured leg and is treated at a local emergency room and later by an orthopedic surgeon.   Under this general fact scenario, there would be a case or claim to pursue against the homeowner for failure to supervise the children.  Had the homeowner been properly supervising the bounce house area, the 12 year old would be been kept out of the bounce house until the 4 year old boys needed a break and then the 12 year old boy – who had visited the home on many occasions and was a friend of the family – could have safely used the bounce house on his owner.   Like other personal injury cases, there are essentially four elements to establish a claim or case against a homeowner for negligence:
1. Duty;
 
2. Breach of Duty;

soccer ball on the field

Summer Camp Injuries

Summer is typically a great time for a child. School is out and the focus is on fun, sports, and activities.   Unfortunately for some children, summer marks a point in time in which a child suffers a serious personal injury in the form of heat exposure, fractures, and other injuries.  If a child is injured a a summer camp, there are many issues and challenges to pursue a case or claim against the summer camp.  It should be noted that a summer camp is not liable or responsible for every since incident or injury.

With any form of physcial activity even arts and crafts, there is a risk of injury.   The question is whether the summer camp acted reasonable and timely.   It is important that the facility, equipment and supplies are regularly inspected; otherwise, more injuries take place at summer camps and, yes, a case can be pursued if it can be shown that the injuries resulted from negligence, carelessnesss, improper supervision, or dangerous conditions.

Streets and Highways Accidents Interstate 95Summer is a great time for fun.  For many children enrolled in summer camps in Florida, camp includes many fun field trips.  It is a wonderful time for adventure and exploration.   Unfortunately for some children, a summer field trip can end in a terrible way and can even end before it even begins for gets anywhere.  A recent Florida school bus field trip accident was report in Jacksonville on Interstate 95. It was reported that two buses carrying children enrolled in the Naval Air Station Youth Activity Center summer camp were heading out for a nice field trip to Jacksonville Zoo when the crash took place.   The accident occurred near Downtown Jacksonville at the Eighth Street overpass.  Just prior to the crash, one bus was following another bus.  There were several reported injuries with three adults and three children being transported to UF Health Jacksonville and Baptist Medical Center.
When a child is injured during a school bus ride or field trip, there can be a case or claim pursued on behalf of the injured child.  Like other cases, there are essentially four elements to the legal case:
1. Duty;

Colorful stack of books in library

Risk of Tip Over Injuries

At schools, day care centers, and summer camps, there may be a risks to children that may not be well identified by the administrators, owners, and employees.   The Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that over 260 children have died since 2000 due to furniture including but not limited to bookshelfs, dressers, and televisions tipping over on the children.  Another alarming statistics include the report that over 11,000 children suffered personal injuries from tip over related incidents during this time period as well.   The truth is that these injuries are quite foreseeable and preventable.  

One common risk that has been identified is the scenario in which a television – whether flat screen or standard – is placed on top of a dresser or bookcase.   Without proper support and anchoring, the television can be prone to tipping over along with the furniture itself.  This can happen from a person casually bumping into the area or child who lacks good safety judgment pull or pushing on the television or furniture.   As stated, these personal injuries can be avoided with proper anchoring.  Ideally, the facility has a trained maintenance person who can install the anchors in a secure manner.  If there is no such person employed at the day care center or school, a professional should be called in to take care of these most important safety measures.  It should be noted that improperly installed anchors may only be slightly better (if at all) than no anchors at all in protecting the children under the supervision of the day care center or school.   If a television, furniture, or other item cannot be securely anchored, then the best and most prudent measure to take is to get rid of this item from the day care center.   You can read more about this topic at Anchoring Televisions and Furniture Can Prevent Tip Over Injuries to Children. 

Happy little girl looking at camera while swinging on playground area

Playground Injuries

During the summer months and the rest of the year, children enjoy the fun and adventure of spending time on a playground.  Whether it is at the day care center, school, summer camp, or public park, a playground can provide hours of entertainment and activity for children – especially toddlers and pre-schools. Of course, elementary aged children also enjoy going to the playground but as they grow older – the playground loses some of its luster to these children.   For the children who still love to go to the playground, there is great fun but also a risk of injury any time that a child spends time on a playground.

During the summer months, a child can get injured on a playground in a number of ways. One such way is being burned by the hot ground or hot playground equipment.  While a playground owner / operator / supervision cannot do much about the weather, safety precautions can be taken on the playground itself by making the sure that the equipment is made with materials and coating that protects the children and that the ground cover is made of materials that also protect the children in a reasonable manner. 

Laundry BottleWhile children are under the care of parents, relatives, neighbors, friends, day care centers, schools, or summer camps, there are some common household items, poisons, and cleaners that pose a significant risk of injury to children.   Let’s take laundry detergent pods.   It has been reported that over 30 children per day get into liquid laundry packets or pods.  Keep in mind that children especially toddles and infants are curious.  The bright colors of a laundry pod or packet (to a child) seems like a fun object to play with and even put in the mouth to play with or eat.  Many such laundry pods seem like a big soft piece of candy or like a soft toy to play with.  Of course, the purpose of these laundry pods or packets are to clean clothes and not to serve as a toy or play item.   This goes the same for other common household or day care items like bleach, bug spray, industrial cleaners, etc. . . . It is also well known that children are wonderful and mischievous explorers and adventurers. In other words, children get into places where they do not belong because there is a certain challenge and thrill in getting into places where they should not be in.
As for the laundry packets, the United States Product Safety Commission reports that children can become quite ill from the ingestion or contact with the packets including but not limited to difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, difficulty breathing, severe eye burns, and vision loss.   That’s right, these bright colored detergent pods and packets are quite dangerous.
Here are some safety tips that should be followed by all child care providers: