Photo: Take care over the school holiday period and avoid a trip to the emergency department, says
Central West Health Executive Director of Medical Services Dr David Rimmer.

“There is no question that kids
need to get out in the great outdoors,
explore, have fun and just
be kids,”

Central West emergency departments are bracing for an influx of fractures, breaks, strains and
cuts that peak during the Christmas and New Year school holiday period.

Central West Health Executive Director of Medical Services Dr David Rimmer said a total of 155
children under 16 years of age presented to the region’s main emergency departments between
12 December 2015 and 25 January 2016.

These included 51 at Longreach Hospital, 38 at Barcaldine Multipurpose Health Service
(MPHS), 31 at Blackall Hospital and 35 at Winton MPHS.

He said strains, sprains, cuts and bruises, with the occasional open wound and fracture,
generally topped the list of children’s injury presentations during the school holiday period.

“Barcaldine MPHS in particular had a rush of such injuries during the last Christmas–New Year
school holiday period, accounting for about 31 per cent of its total presentations for under 16
year olds,’’ he said.

This year, the Christmas-New Year school holiday period starts on 10 December, with children
returning to school on 23 January next year.

“There is no question that kids need to get out in the great outdoors, explore, have fun and just
be kids,” Dr Rimmer said.

“But there are some simple things parents can do to reduce the risks of painful or serious
injuries that persist long after the tinsel has been packed away.”

Dr Rimmer said preventable accidents at this time of year most commonly involved falls from
swings, trampolines, bicycles, scooters, skateboards and rip-sticks.

“One of the great danger periods is when toys are new and children are learning to perfect their
skills and balance,” he said.

“This is also the time when parents and well-meaning gift-givers can establish good ground
rules – by packaging all necessary safety gear in with the present.”

Dr Rimmer said while legislation mandated helmets for bicycles and motorcycles, gift givers
often forgot that skateboards, scooters, roller blades and rip-sticks could be just as dangerous.

“From 1 November 2015, the mandatory helmet rule also has applied to quad bike riders and
any passengers they carry,’’ he said.

“Both riders and passengers must wear an approved motorcycle helmet when the vehicle is
operating on a road or road-related area.

“This is the responsibility of the registered operator and the driver of the vehicle.

“If it has wheels, it needs a helmet and other protective equipment such as knee and elbow
pads and protective clothing.

“When you buy anything with wheels – buy a helmet and other protective gear.

“Studies around the world show that helmet wearing leads to an almost 90 per cent reduction in
the risk of serious head injury when bicycle riders are involved in an accident.

“Helmets play a significant role in preventing facial and dental trauma, particularly if they have

”Also always check the age recommendation on packaging, buy safety equipment that fits, and
be wary of any gift that has small parts that might break off.”
Dr Rimmer said parents of younger children also should be especially vigilant with button

“The ingestion of small, coin-sized button batteries is a recognised danger for young children
and, if left undiagnosed, can cause severe internal injury or even death,’’ he said.

“Younger children are at risk of swallowing due to the appeal of placing shiny smooth objects
into their mouth, while teenagers also can be at risk due to the appeal of receiving a tingle on
the tongue when a lithium battery is placed on the tongue.

“The best advice is to avoid entirely any toys containing button batteries, especially for younger

Dr Rimmer also urged parents to choose appropriate areas for children to try out new skills.

“Children should have good supervision and be led to safer areas with access to grass, soft fall
or railings, rather than near roads, steep inclines or other fast-moving children,’’ he said.