Every year one out of four children, 14 years and younger, suffers some type of injury that requires medical attention according to the National Safe Kids Campaign. Their report shows that 40% of these injuries occur between the summer months of May and August and 90% of these accidents are avoidable. We can educate ourselves, as well as our children, on how to stay safe. Being safe doesn’t mean we cannot enjoy our summer vacation! Here are 10 tips to keep children safe during the summer:
If you are planning to spend time outside, make sure to spray yourself and your kids with insect repellent. Repellent doesn’t kill the insects, but it can help minimize bites from mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and other bugs.
There are many types of repellent. There are those that contain DEET and those that do not. You should use insect repellents that contain DEET sparingly and never use these sprays on infants! DEET can be toxic. Check the levels of DEET in formulas before you spray them on your kids. Insect repellents that contain 10 to 30 percent concentrations of DEET can be used on exposed skin, clothing, and shoes. Do not apply it to faces or hands. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends repellents that contain picaridin or oil lemon eucalyptus, if you can to stay away from products containing DEET. Both the picaridin and oil lemon eucalyptus are non-toxic and are able to reduce mosquito bites just as well as those containing DEET.
Everyone, regardless of skin types (whether you burn easily or not) and age, should apply a water-resistant sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays every day of the year according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The Skin Cancer Foundation says that getting just one blistering sunburn during childhood doubles your chances of developing melanoma. Since you are still exposed to these harmful rays in winter months and on cloudy days. A sunscreen of 30 SPF or above should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors. Be certain to apply a generous amount covering all exposed skin. When using both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first.
Staying hydrated in hot weather can help reduce the risk of heat-related illness. Keep water or sports drinks (that contain electrolytes) on hand to maintain hydration. Try to stay in a shady or air-conditioned location during the hottest parts of the afternoon.
Mild symptoms (heat exhaustion) may include feeling thirsty, fatigue and cramps (legs or abdominal). If left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heatstroke.
Heatstroke is serious. Symptoms may include any of the following: dizziness, trouble breathing, headaches, rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, confusion and changes in blood pressure. Skin may be flushed and feel hot and dry (not sweaty). Body temperature may rise to 104 degrees F or higher, and as it becomes more severe, the risk of organ damage (to the liver, kidneys and brain) increases.
Kids are more susceptible to heat illnesses than adults because their central nervous system is not yet fully developed. Strenuous activity and dehydration make it difficult for young bodies to regulate changes in body temperature, and chronic health conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease and medicines such as antihistamines also increase the risk. Kids are also at risk for heat illnesses if left in a hot car. Even if the windows are cracked and even if it’s only for a few minutes. Never leave a child unattended in a car!
Never rely on thirst as a reminder to drink. If you are feeling thirsty, you’re already mildly dehydrated. To make certain that your kids are okay during those hot summer days, here are the summaries of the signs which may indicate that a child is dehydrated.
– Dry mouth
– Sunken eyes
– Cessation of sweating
– Tearless crying
Have kids drink often throughout the day to avoid becoming dehydrated. If kids are active in sports, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests drinking 5 ounces every 20 minutes for a child weighing 88 pounds.
To hydrate kids, choose water or sports drinks that contain electrolytes. It’s best to avoid sodas, juice, and other fruit drinks. Beverages that contain 100mg (or more) of sodium and 28mg (or more) of potassium in an 8-ounce serving are recommended by the National Alliance for Youth Sports.
Today, children must wear helmets when riding bikes. Be sure to choose a helmet that has a safety seal from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Close to 300,000 kids end up in the emergency room every year from a bike-related injury with some resulting in a severe brain injury or even death. Make sure your child’s bike fits their size properly. Have your child straddle the top bar of his/her bike with both feet flat on the ground. The correct size bike will have a 1-3 inch gap between the bar and your child’s body.
Summer is a great time for picnicking and cookouts, but the heat could ruin your food. Food-borne illnesses are caused by bacteria (such as E.coli, Salmonella, Clostridium botulinum, Listeria, Campylobacter and Clostridium perfringens), viruses (such as Norwalk virus), parasites, and other toxins.
Food-borne illness contains systems a lot like the flu and typically includes nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms can also range from mild gastrointestinal discomfort to bloody stools.
The best way to avoid food poisoning during the summer is to be sure food that contains mayonnaise, milk, eggs, meat, poultry, and seafood aren’t kept at room temperature for more than an hour or two (one hour max if it’s 90 degrees F outside). Remember, meat and eggs aren’t the only problems; raw fruits and vegetables can be an issue if not properly washed and stored. When traveling with food items, be certain to pack raw meat separately from the ready to-eat food to avoid any contamination.
Poison ivy, poison oak, and sumac all contain an oil called urushiol, that causes an allergic reaction when it comes in contact with skin in about 85 percent of the population. The rash that develops will only appear where the skin came into contact with the plant’s oil. It is not contagious, but it can spread through indirect contact (such as petting a dog that has run through poisonous plants). Symptoms of a rash caused by poison ivy, as well as poison oak and sumac, may include:
– Redness or red streaks
– Itchy skin
– Blisters that drain fluid when popped
– Small bumps or hives
Avoiding contact with these poisonous plants is the only way to avoid developing the rash. Wearing clothing that covers a large amount of skin can help reduce your risk. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends home treatment for mild cases, including cool showers and oatmeal baths. If itching and swelling become moderate to severe, prescription medications can be used to reduce symptoms.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more than 205,000 kids visit emergency rooms with playground-related injuries every year. Many of these injuries could be prevented with a little precaution and adult supervision.
Check the playground equipment before letting kids play on it. Surfaces that are too hot can cause burns, and loose ropes (ropes that aren’t secured on bot
h ends) can cause accidental strangulation. The ground should be covered in a protective surface such as rubber mats, wood or rubber mulch or wood chips – never grass, asphalt or concrete.
Also, be sure that your child’s clothing is playground-friendly; remove any strings, such as those on hoodies and only let them wear closed-toed shoes at play. Avoid clothing that is loose enough to catch on equipment.
Never leave kids alone near the pool, no matter what their ages or swim capabilities are. Installing fencing around pools, at least 5-feet high, all the way around and with a self-closing, self-latching gate, can prevent 50 to 90 percent of accidental drowning incidents. Pool and gate alarms –alert you when the pool water becomes agitated and when the gate is opened — adding another layer of protection. In 2006, more than 3,700 kids younger than 5 years old were injured in near-drowning incidents and every year, more than 830 kids ages 14 and younger die due to unintentional drowning according to SafeKids.
Prevent tick bites and tick-borne illnesses with these four steps:
It’s smart to wear light-colored clothing and shoes during the summertime because they help keep you cooler and help you spot any ticks that may be crawling on you. Tucking your pant legs into your socks can help minimize ticks crawling up your legs or into your shoes.
Insect repellents that contain DEET can reduce your chances of tick bites. DEET products may be applied directly to exposed skin (not skin under your clothing) and to clothing, but should be used sparingly on kids. Look for products with about 30 percent DEET concentration, and apply it to your child’s body, avoiding his or her face and hands.
Know Your Enemy
Be Vigilant with Tick Checks. Ticks like to hang out in grassy or wooded areas, and they are especially fond of places that are moist or humid.
Do a tick check on everyone in the family every night. Contracting a tick-borne illness can take up to 36 hours if a tick isn’t removed, so you want to be prompt and thorough. The CDC recommends you check under the arms, between the legs, around the waist, inside the navel, and don’t forget the hairline and scalp.
Tick removal isn’t complicated but there is a technique. Use fine-tipped tweezers, not your bare fingers, to detach the tick. Hold the tick in the tweezers (get as close to the skin as you can) and pull upwards. Be as steady as you can, as twisting and turning could cause the tick’s mouth to break off under the skin (if that happens, use your tweezers to remove it). Disinfect the area and you’re done!
Summer is a time for fun, parties and family gatherings. Keep your family and friends safe by following these ten summer safety tips. By taking these simple precautions, you can avoid injuries and the emergency room!