Summer is right around the corner, and if your kids are like mine, they are dying to get outside to play. So with that in mind, I’ve put together a list of a few of the more common summer-time “mom-ergencies,” and some tips to help you enjoy your summer days and beautiful sunsets at home, instead of the Emergency Room.
Because of their relative size, children are at much greater risk for heat-related illness or injuries. Adequate hydration is essential, especially during those hot summer months. When the temperatures are high, remember to include frequent rest periods and hydration breaks. Although water is preferred, flavored water or low calorie sports drinks can substantially improve kids’ fluid consumption. Also remember children should never be left alone in a car. Even when temperatures are at 85° outside, the inside of a car can easily reach 135° or more, and heat stroke can occur within 10-15 minutes.
What is summer without a trip to the lake or a weekend camping? Insects and ticks have a way of getting under your skin, literally. To help avoid bites, use an insect repellent. Apply sparingly, only on exposed skin, and avoid the hands, mouth, and eyes. If you live or play in places where tick-borne illnesses are common, daily tick checks are a good idea, especially when children have been playing near wooded areas.
Bees and wasps are generally not aggressive unless they feel threatened. Although you may think your sweet children would never do that, I don’t think I’m the only one with kids who somehow find it interesting to throw rocks at a beehive or wasps’ nest. So, with that, most stings cause only local reactions of pain and redness that can last several hours to up to a few days. If a stinger is left in the body, it is important to remove it as soon as possible to limit the amount of venom pumped in to the skin. Remove the stinger by scraping (not squeezing) it out with a credit card or fingernail. Although rare, allergic reactions can be serious and need immediate medical attention. Any child with difficulty breathing or speaking, swelling around the mouth, wheezing, or hives should seek immediate medical attention.
It’s fair to say that most of us have spent a week or two in the summer looking like a lobster. Although sun avoidance is recommended, reality is another story. The most harmful UV rays are typically present between 10 AM and 4 PM. More care should be taken during those hours to prevent sunburns. Sunscreen can be safely used in children starting at 6 months of age and should be at least SPF 30 or higher. Keep in mind that higher SPF does not equate to longer protection. Sunscreen should be applied liberally and repeated often, especially if you are swimming or sweating. Most sunburns can be treated at home with aloe-based products and pain relievers. However, seek treatment for any blistering or deeper burns, to help prevent infection or potential scarring.
Helmets are one of the single-most effective ways you can save a child’s life. Children 14 and under comprise almost 500,000 hospital visits a year for traumatic brain injuries. Many of these are preventable with the use of proper fitting protective equipment. Helmets should be worn with many outdoor activities. Basically, if your kids are on something that moves, they probably should have on a helmet.
We can’t say enough about childproofing pools, providing swim lessons, the proper use of life jackets. Even if kids know how to swim, life jackets should always be used when playing in open water (lakes or oceans). Children should be continuously supervised during water activities. Parents should avoid distractions such as talking on the phone, playing games, or reading while supervising children near water. Also remember to only swim in designated areas and avoid any diving unless clearly marked or you know how deep the water is.