Summer: a time for backyard adventures, bike rides, camping trips, cookouts, baseball games and so much more! Summers are meant for making memories, but along the way a mishap or two may happen. From sunburns to allergies to falls, discover how to protect your child from these risks and how to make this a memorable summer!
Staying Safe Outdoors
Flowers, trees and plants are in full bloom, and so are allergies. Constant sneezing, watery eyes, itchy throat, and a runny or stuffy nose can keep your little one indoors during the warm weather. These common allergy symptoms can be combated with the help of over-the-counter allergy medication. Consult your primary care provider on the appropriate course of action to take when it comes to your allergies.
Spending hot summer days outside will likely lead to an insect bite or two, especially if your child is playing near heavily wooded areas, trails, creeks or ponds. In all of these areas, you’re likely to find summer’s biggest foe: the mosquito. A child can help protect themselves by using an insect repellent and wearing protective clothing, such as lightweight long-sleeved shirts, pants and closed-toe shoes.
Take precautions when it comes to bees and wasps. Check around the nooks and crannies outside your home for their nests, such as under the deck or in nearby trees. The majority of insect stings come from wasps, yellow jackets, hornets and bees. If your child is stung by one of these insects, here are signs to look for in case your child has an allergic reaction:
- Large swelling outside the sting point
If your child displays any of these symptoms, contact your pediatrician, primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic.
It is normal for your child to be worn out after a long day playing in the sun, but do you know the signs of heat exhaustion? Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hot, dry skin
- Decreased sweating
- Shortness of breath
If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, find a cool shaded area, possibly indoors in the air conditioning, to help them cool down. Give your child ice water to keep them hydrated or a sports drink to replenish fluids and much needed sugars. Remove any excess clothing and put a wet, cool cloth on their skin to help bring their body temperature down. If your child continues to display symptoms of overheating, contact your pediatrician, primary care doctor or urgent care clinic as soon as possible.
A child’s skin is more sensitive to sunlight than your adult skin, so protecting their skin from excessive sun exposure is essential. If your child spends long periods of time in the sun each day, make sure to dress them in protective clothing, such as a hat and sunglasses. Don’t forget the most important step: applying sunscreen!
If you are unsure of what SPF level your child needs, ask your doctor. The level of protection and type of sunscreen may vary depending on your child’s skin tone and activity level. Be sure to apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before going outside and reapply approximately every 30 to 60 minutes while outside.
Poison Ivy and Poison Oak
The first step to preventing a poison ivy or oak outbreak is being able to recognize the plants. Poison ivy and oak leaves are similar in the fact that their leaves grow in 3 leaflets on alternating sides of the stalk. Poison oak differs from poison ivy in that it grows yellow or green flowers or white berries.
If you believe you, your child or your clothes have come in contact with poison oak or ivy, be sure to wash the area thoroughly with soap and wash your clothes with regular detergent at the highest heat setting possible.
While these methods may help cut down on the pain and itching, you may need a topical or oral treatment to help the rash heal more quickly.
Staying Safe From Accidents and Injuries
You want to encourage your child to play outside, yet that might mean that they come in contact with someone they don’t know. It is important to talk to your child about stranger danger and what steps to take if they are approached by a stranger or separated from a parent or supervising adult. Make sure your child has important phone numbers memorized in case they get lost and know to stay in the same place if they lose sight of a parent.
Running around the backyard and neighborhood without shoes can be a freeing feeling. But be sure your child is wearing shoes at all times outside the house and knows not to handle broken glass.
If your child is cut or injured from broken glass, take precautions when removing it from the skin. Flush the affected area with clean water. Allow the cut to bleed on its own to let any germs and bacteria bleed out. If a parent is unable to get all of the glass out, do not squeeze around the cut or you can risk pushing the glass farther in. Wash the area after flushing with water, pat dry, and apply antibiotic ointment to the cut. Last, cover the injury to help it heal.
Is there anything more refreshing than taking a dip in the cool water on a hot day? Swimming is a great way to stay active during the summer while staying cool, but it is important to know proper water safety for your child. Invest in swimming lessons for your child starting at a young age and use floaties or inner tubes for children too young to swim on their own. Visit swimming pools with lifeguards and always supervise young swimmers. If you plan to swim in a lake or pond this summer, don’t let the water get into your child’s mouth and be sure they are always wearing a life jacket.
It’s important to not assume that a child who knows how to swim is safe from the risk of drowning. All children need to be supervised while in the water. Infants, toddlers and children who are not strong swimmers should have an adult supervisor within arm’s reach known as “touch supervision.”
Anchors away! Enjoy some sunshine and water play on your boat this summer, but be sure to always be safe! Never exceed the maximum occupancy of a boat and make sure there are enough life jackets on board for all passengers. Life jackets should also be the correct size for children and adults. Last but not least, come supplied for the day with water, snacks, sunscreen and protective clothing.
While sunburns are the most common burns during the summer, children are still susceptible to burns from fire pits, grills and sparklers. Keep the lighter fluid and fire starters away from children and set up a safe zone around open flames, such as a bonfire. You can also purchase a fire pit with a mesh top to keep kids from throwing inappropriate objects in the fire and so they don’t come into direct contact with the flame.
Bike riding, trampolines, rollerblading, skateboarding, scooters, swings, playsets, climbing trees and hiking are all amazing outdoor activities for your child to participate in, but they may lead to a fall. Prevent injuries by buying the proper protective gear needed such as helmets, knee pads, and the right shoes. You can also find trampolines with tall net enclosures to keep children from falling off the sides. To be safe, always have antibiotic ointment and bandages available in case of a fall!
If your child does suffer a fall, be sure you know what to look for in case they suffer a head injury:
- Check for external head injuries such as minor cuts or bruises
- Internal head injuries may lead to unconsciousness, vomiting, or your child not walking or talking normally
- Watch a child’s activity for 24 hours after a fall for any of the above symptoms
If your child is displaying any of these head injury warning signs, have your child’s condition assessed in an ER or urgent care clinic as soon as possible.
Sports are in full swing during the summer and a scraped knee or bruise are bound to happen. Be sure your child has all the proper gear for sports practices and games. In the heat of summer, you also want to be sure your child is properly hydrated and eating nutritious foods when playing sports all day long. If your child does experience an injury, clean the wound thoroughly or ice the sore area.
UnityPoint Clinic is There for You!
Kids can do crazy things at times, but that’s what makes them kids! Let them explore the great outdoors and make a mountain of memories, but be prepared to help them up when they get an injury. UnityPoint Clinic offers the health care you need to get your child back outside this summer. Whether you use our urgent/express care clinics, pediatricians, a primary care doctor or our new virtual care option through MDLIVE, UnityPoint Clinic is always there for you.