WPRI – PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Every year, thousands of children are injured in unexpected summer dangers that happen in just an instant. These seasonal dangers may be lesser known but they are just as deadly.
Eric Merhi is a typical 10-year-old boy who loves riding his bike – fast.
Even though he always wears a helmet, his thrill ride came to an abrupt and violent end one summer day.
"My front wheel hit a bump and then my handlebars turned and went in my leg," Merhi told Eyewitness News.
At that time, Merhi had not realized that the handle bar of his bike had impaled him. The metal handlebar had punctured his abdomen and out through his leg, narrowly missing his organs and arteries.
"It's something I never thought," said Merhi's mother Pam. "It was just a typical day. You figure they are just riding their bike like any other day and then boom, it happens."
Hasbro Children's Hospital emergency department doctor Hale Wills was on duty when Merhi was rushed in – Wills ultimately saved Merhi's life.
"He was very fortunate because if the injury had been an inch [to] one side or another, he could have very well had a major blood vessel injury and may have not survived to get to the hospital," Dr. Wills said.
Wills told Eyewitness News that handle bar injuries are actually more common than most would think. Dr. Wills says most kids just drop their bikes on the ground and over time, the rubber grips on the handle bars rub off, exposing sharp metal.
"The metal end of the handle bar was exposed which made it much worse of an injury had the handle bar grips been on," said Dr. Wills.
Active children and hot temperatures can also lead to another summer risk: dehydration.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children are more prone to dehydration than adults. The CDC reminds parents to have children take a water break during every hour of play. Hydrating snacks like watermelon can also help on hot days.
Another lesser thought of summertime danger? Children struck by cars.
According to Hasbro Children's Hospital, doctors see twice as many of these injuries during the summer months than they do during the school year. The CDC recommends reflective clothing for children, even in the daytime.
Summer also brings a spike in child poisonings. The American Association of Poison Control Centers says during the summer, children are more likely to be exposed to toxins like gasoline, lighter fluid, kerosene, lamp oil and even bug spray.