Why the colour of your kids’ swimwear could be a matter of life and death
by Katja Fischer
A German trauma surgeon and emergency doctor has gone viral with her Instagram video. Julia Rehme-Röhrl explains what parents should avoid doing in order to prevent their children from getting injured. In her own words, she’s «simply seen and experienced too much» herself.
Julia Rehme-Röhrl is a trauma surgery and orthopaedics specialist, emergency doctor and mother – and has been producing content for a year and a half. She calls herself «Notarztmami» (English: emergency physician mum) on Instagram, where she gives other parents medical tips. The German now has just under 22,000 followers. «My hobby has turned into a nice Insta page,» she writes on her website (page in German). According to her, she aims to explain medicine in simple and understandable terms, free of charge – «basically, sound information from a professional».
A reel recently stood out from her Instagram feed. Wearing a white doctor’s coat, she urgently lists five things that, as a trauma surgeon and mother, she’d never do again. The video has been viewed by more than one million people, and it has 22,000 likes and more than 400 comments. As Julia Rehme-Röhrl captions, these are her own opinions. «I’ve simply seen and experienced too much as a trauma surgeon and emergency doctor.»
One thing Julia Rehme-Röhrl says she’d never do is ride a bike or scooter without a helmet. «And I wouldn’t let my child ride without a helmet either. Not even in a bike trailer.»
She doesn’t go on to explain why, but the reasons are quite obvious. In addition, her community has shared their own experiences. «Our son recently had such an unfortunate fall on his balance bike that the helmet suffered badly,» commented one user of many. «Fortunately, it was only the helmet. The moment you start to fall, you have no control over your body and children in particular hit the ground uncontrollably and often head first.» Julia Rehme-Röhrl confirms: «That’s precisely it!»
«I’d never strap myself in a car while wearing a thick jacket,» the doctor continues. After all, the seatbelt is supposed to fit snugly and provide protection. «A thick jacket prevents it from doing that, in the case of our child, too. And even if it’s only over a short distance. You must take off the jacket.»
This is a danger that most people are aware of but, let’s be honest, probably neglect from time to time. One mother describes her dilemma under the post: «I’d also like to implement this, but I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to do it. We often only drive short distances, during which time the car won’t warm up in winter. Should I really take off my kid’s jacket in sub-zero temperatures? The seat is also freezing cold.»
In view of the danger posed by keeping a thick jacket on, the answer is clear: yes, you should take it off anyway. «After the impact, the voluminous textiles first compress, and only then does the belt catch your body. In the process, you lose valuable milliseconds,» explains Michael Pfäffli, Head of Accident Research and Prevention at Axa Insurance, in an article on the topic. In most cars these days, the interior heats up in just a few minutes anyway. Alternatively, you can use the jacket as a blanket, placing it over your child with the seatbelt fastened.
Children can’t really anticipate the bounce of a trampoline, explains Dr Julia Rehme-Röhrl. «And less so with several children on the trampoline.» Her recommendation in the video is clear: «I highly recommend not buying a trampoline until your child is at least about eight years old.»
A sore point, as the flood of comments reveals. «Unfortunately, the trampoline was the only thing I never took seriously until there was an accident. The child is fine today, but we could have done without the suffering,» commented one user. The figures speak volumes. According to a study (linked page in German) by the Department of Pediatrics at the University Hospital of Würzburg, 40,000 trampoline accidents occur in Germany every year. And 68 per cent of them happen when several children jump at the same time.
The doctor also strongly advises against getting a bunk bed. It’s «very easy» for a child to fall off it, even at an older age, especially when fast asleep. «Falling from a bunk bed can be very dangerous and can lead to paraplegia and very serious injuries – including to the skull,» says Dr Julia Rehme-Röhrl.
A study by the University of Leipzig (linked page in German) confirms the extent to which the danger is underestimated. According to the report, bunk bed accidents most often lead to broken bones in children. The results also show that children under the age of six are particularly at risk. Fractures only become less likely after the age of ten.
The fifth and final tip from the trauma surgeon? Never rely on a flotation device. «No matter how good it is, you have to watch your children,» says Dr Julia Rehme-Röhrl on the danger of drowning. «You are your children’s life insurance,» she concludes.
It’s the least controversial piece of advice. Without exception, her community agrees in the comments. One user writes: «My child always wears a lifejacket near water, but that’s the emergency solution in case I’m inattentive (I do my very best never to let him out of my sight, but I’m only human) and then at least I have a little trump card that I hope I never need.»
Another small trump card in this context is the colour of your child’s swimming trunks. More on that in the following article:
Dr Julia Rehme-Röhrl also emphasises in her post that these are only her personal top 5 things that she refrains from doing as a doctor and mother; the list could go on and on. Of course, it didn’t take her long to follow up with a sequel after the huge success of her initial reel. A few days ago, «Notarztmami» posted part two with three more don’ts.Header image: Shutterstock