Carbon County Safe Kids and Franklin Township Athletic Association are hosting two Youth Sports Safety Clinics at Phifer's Ice Dam Field and Christman's Field in Franklin Township from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, and May 14. The clinics are for parents, coaches and athletes to increase awareness and help reduce the more than 3.5 million injuries that occur in youth sports each year in the United States.

In partnership with Health Works athletic trainers and Brain STEP team members, the Safe Kids Youth Sport Safety Clinic will arm coaches, parents, and league organizers with the knowledge and skills essential to help children properly prepare for a sport, prevent injuries, and play safely. The events will discuss also concussion prevention, recognition and response, proper hydration habits and overuse injury prevention methods.

The Carbon County Safe Kids Youth Sports Safety Clinic is part of a national education campaign sponsored by Safe Kids USA and supported by Johnson & Johnson. The campaign focuses on four areas which are critical to keeping young athletes healthy and injury-free: preventing acute and overuse injuries; proper hydration before, during and after play; an annual pre-participation physical evaluation prior to play; and concussion awareness, prevention, and screening methods.

"Children ages 5 to 14 account for nearly 40 percent of all sports-related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments," said Safe Kids coordinator Mindy Graver. "Our goal is to reach coaches and parents through these clinics and equip them with the critical information and resources to keep kids out of the emergency room."

Five important sports safety tips that should be stressed to help prevent sports-related injuries include:

Ÿ Safety gear: Children playing sports should have access to and consistently use well-maintained safety equipment during both practices and games.

Ÿ Qualified coaching: Athletic coaches should be trained in both first aid and CPR, have a plan for responding to emergencies and have current knowledge of proper hydration methods (and establishing mandatory breaks) and concussion prevention, recognition and response. Coaches should also establish safety guidelines that athletes, parents and coaches will follow.

Ÿ Proper Conditioning: To prevent acute and overuse injuries, coaches should teach young athletes proper routines for both warm-ups and cool-downs before and after practice and play. This can help prevent sports-related injuries (such as muscle tears or sprains) by stretching and releasing any muscle tension.

Ÿ Hydration: Athletes should be encouraged to drink fluids (water or sports drink) 30 minutes before the activity begins and every 15-20 minutes during activity. Coaches should establish mandatory water breaks during practice and games.

Ÿ Rest: If young athletes are very tired or in pain, coaches and parents should encourage them to rest as this valuable recovery time can help prevent acute and overuse injuries.

For more information on Safe Kids USA sports safety clinics or sports injury prevention in general, visit www.safekids.org/sports [1].

The Carbon County Safe Kids Chapter works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14. Safe Kids is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury. Safe Kids was founded in 1995 and is led by Mindy Graver, Penn State Extension in Jim Thorpe.