Staying safe during the big game

iStock_000034004550SmallWith the big game quickly approaching, the collective excitement and Seahawks pride in Seattle is reaching epic proportions – and the thrilling success of the team has brought the city together.

As fans stock up on blue and green garb and prep for their game-day celebrations, it’s important to remember that large events like this can bring a variety of safety concerns for families and children.

“Large sporting events present the same dangers for kids as New Year’s and similar holidays,” said Tony Woodward, MD, MBA, medical director of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “A lot of this stems from the fact that generally, decisions about these events are not made with children in mind.”

Woodward recommends the following tips to help ensure that families stay safe:

For those heading to parties

  • “If you are attending house party to watch the game, check your environment for things that could pose a danger to your children,” Woodward says. “You should remove what you can, but there is no substitute for supervision.”
  • Consider having a parent serve as a ‘designated watcher’ to supervise any children present, or consider hiring someone to do this for the game. “When adults are busy doing adult things, this gives kids time to get into things that they might not normally be able to get into,” Woodward says.
  • “This time of year the flu can be a real problem, and big events that bring people together serve to spread it around even more,” Woodward says. “Don’t share cups, foods or utensils. Also, be thoughtful about staying home if you or your child is sick, and basically, just be sure to have plenty of Purell.”
  • Keep food and alcohol out of the reach of children. “If food is left out, be sure not to leave it out for more than two hours, or you run the risk of contracting food poisoning or another foodborne illness.”
  • Parents should make sure flat screen TVs are mounted or secured to a nearby wall, and older-style TVs should be placed on low, stable pieces of furniture so that they can’t tip over onto children.

For those attending the game

  • While updated forecasts have called for milder weather than it appeared initially, fans traveling to attend the game in New York should prepare for the worst, just in case.
  • “Make sure you and your children wear layers and stay dry,” Woodward says. “Be prepared for changing weather conditions.”
  • Just like at a house party, alcohol consumption can be pervasive in the stands of a stadium during the game, so parents should be especially careful to ensure that their children don’t accidentally or intentionally drink any alcohol.
  • Drinking alcohol also makes it harder for your body to stay warm, so adults attending the game should be mindful of this as well.

Getting home safely

  • Whether in New York, Seattle or any place in-between, use your best judgement when getting home or going out after the game. “Be aware that there could be a lot of distracted people out on the roads,” Woodward says.
  • And of course…never drink alcohol and drive.

Obviously, one can’t always plan for when they need to seek medical attention, but if you feel like you or your children need to seek assistance, do so immediately. Don’t try to wait until the end of the game.

“Big events like this are kind of a double-edged sword for emergency care staff,” Woodward says.” They are often are quite busy prior to the game, then there is a lull while the game is taking place, and then another rush takes place immediately following the game.”

There is no doubt that this will be a fun and exciting weekend for many people both in and outside the Seattle Area. By keeping these tips in mind, we can all help each other stay safe while enjoying the game.