While the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing have made for a difficult spring, we have hope for much better months this summer. We’re moving in the right direction in our fight against the virus, but we must continue to follow CDC recommendations until the experts determine it’s safe to return to life as normal. It may be tough right now, but these measures are helping save lives.
But that doesn’t mean our kids can’t have fun this summer. It’s one of the best times of year for outdoor activities — however, summer also brings many of the most common and easily avoidable emergency department visits. So whether your kids are enjoying summer at home, on the road or at camp, keep these safety tips top of mind to ensure they stay safe and healthy.
Always have active supervision by the pool. Summer water safety is very important this time of year. Most drownings happen quickly and silently, so you must actively supervise children when in or around water and make sure you have the right equipment to keep pools safe.
Look for signs of heat exhaustion. Cases of heat stroke spike during the summer, and this can be life threatening in children. When kids show milder symptoms such as heat cramps and dizziness, this can be an indication that heat stroke could occur. Make sure children take water breaks and wear lightweight clothing when playing outside to help prevent this from happening.
Practice good car safety. Make sure your child’s car seat is properly secured before hitting the road and never leave a child unattended in a car. The temperature inside can rise quickly, and just a few minutes can be the difference between life and death.
Protect skin from the sun. Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher whenever your child is outdoors. Reapply every three hours or immediately after your child has been in or splashed by water. Also, try to avoid outdoor activities during peak sunshine hours and consider dressing children in sun protective clothing.
Avoid bug bites. As the weather warms up, bugs come out in full force. To avoid bug bites, apply insect repellant before spending time outdoors, avoid using heavily scented soaps or lotions and cover arms and legs with clothing as much as possible.
Enjoy fireworks safely. More than 10,000 people are treated in emergency departments in the U.S. each year due to injuries from fireworks. It also might be surprising to hear that nearly a third of these visits are children under 15. If you’re celebrating summer holidays with a bang, make sure your kids are enjoying the show from a safe distance.
Stay hydrated. Kids are more prone to dehydration than adults, and the risk increases as temperatures rise. The amount of water a child should drink varies by age, weight and activity level. However, a general rule is taking half of your child’s weight (up to 100 pounds) — and that’s the number of ounces of water they should drink every day. That means an 80-pound child should drink 40 ounces of water.
Don’t monkey around. Playground-related injuries account for more than 200,000 emergency department visits each year. Always supervise children on playgrounds and choose the right play equipment for your child’s age and skills. In the summer sun, it’s also a good idea to touch equipment to check for hot surfaces before letting your children play.
Wear a lifejacket on boats. If you’re heading to the lake to cool off, make sure to bring a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device. A properly fitted lifejacket is snug yet comfortable and will not move above the chin or ears when you lift it at the shoulders.
Practice safe cycling. Apart from automobiles, bicycles are related to more childhood injuries than any other consumer product. That means wearing a helmet is especially important for helping protect kids from getting hurt. Make sure bikes and helmets fit your kids properly and that they follow smart riding rules.
All of us at Hendricks Regional Health wish you and your kids a safe and happy summer. Keep in mind that if you ever need us, our team of expert pediatric physicians and nurses is ready to help at our dedicated, inpatient pediatric unit. To find a pediatrician or learn more about the services we offer, call (317) 745-DOCS or visit hendricks.org/pediatrics.
Author: Joseph Lesnik, M.D.