Summer is the time that all children look forward to because school is out, the sunshine is abundant and there is plenty of time to be with friends. This year, summer may look a bit different with social distancing and masks but it can still be fun. These health and safety tips will help you make the most of the lazy days of summer.
Sun & Heat
The sun is hottest between 10 am and 3 pm. It’s best to stay out of the sun during this time so look for shady park areas or stay inside. When you do go outside, everyone, from infants to adults, should wear hats and sunglasses to protect from the sun’s UV rays.
And don’t forget the sunscreen! Apply the sunscreen to children 6 months and older at least 30 minutes before heading into the sun. Even on cloudy days. And remember, sunscreen wears off so reapply every 2 hours. For very young children, be sure to use sunscreen specially formulated for them and only sparingly.
Sunburn can be painful so if your child gets too much sun, the best remedy is cool compresses and aloe ointments.
While the warmth of the sun is welcome after winter’s chill, too much heat can also be dangerous. Heat exhaustion is caused by too much exposure to the heat along with not drinking enough water. You’ll know that your child is showing signs of heat exhaustion because they will be very tired, very thirsty, and have muscle cramps. If not caught, heat exhaustion can turn into heatstroke which could cause death.
If you think your child is suffering from heat exhaustion, find a way to cool your child down and give them plenty of water to drink. You can spray them with cold water from a hose or bottle and fan them. If you have ice packs, putting those under the arms can help speed up the cool-down process. If in doubt or your child seems to be getting worse, call 911.
Babies are especially susceptible to heat-related illnesses so keep them in air-conditioned areas where possible, never leave in a car even with the windows cracked.
Drowning is a leading cause of death for children younger than four years old and teenagers. The number one safety rule is to always watch children when they are around water. This includes bathtubs, wading pools, fish ponds, or lakes. You can never be too careful, so try to keep kids within arms reach when in and around water.
Being unable to breathe air can result in brain damage and with drowning it happens very quickly. When a child is pulled from a drowning situation, they will need emergency medical care.
You can help prevent drowning by taking your child to swim lessons, an important part of water safety. Many local organizations offer free or low-cost swim lessons like the YMCA and Red Cross.
Summer brings many opportunities for cooking outdoors at campsites or on the grill. It’s also the time of year that fireworks are used to celebrate. Each of these situations holds the potential for a child to get burned. About half of all accidental burns happen to children under the age of 4 years.
First degree burns are red and hurt but don’t blister. These are easily treated with cool running water for about five to ten minutes, there is no need for ointment. Don’t use ice, this can delay healing.
Second-degree burns are deeper through the skin and do blister. But don’t pop the blisters. Contact your child’s doctor for second or even third-degree burns, which require immediate attention.
Spring and summer bring the plants into full bloom including poison ivy which grows as a vine or bush in the grass or trees. Poison ivy has 3 leaves on each little branch with notched and pointed tips. Contact with the oil of this plant causes a red, very itchy rash. If your child is exposed to poison ivy, change his or her clothing, and wash the clothes and skin area affected with soap and water to remove any oils. You can treat the skin rash with any anti-itch (hydrocortisone cream) and antihistamine tablets.
Your First Aid Kit
Knowing that accidents happen, having a first aid kit on hand can be a great start when an accident occurs. Here’s what to include, most of these you can get at your area discount store. Often you can purchase all of these in a pre-assembled kit. Ask the pharmacist if you need help locating these items.
- Antibacterial ointment
- Triple antibiotic ointment
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Sterile gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Cold packs
- Rubbing alcohol
- Digital thermometer
- Antihistamine for children
- Infant or children’s acetaminophen
Summer brings many wonderful opportunities for being outside and enjoying activities. It’s also a time when children are exposed to additional dangers. By keeping a watchful eye on children many of these situations can be avoided and the summer will be enjoyable for all.