UPDATE: Keeping your family safe is a year-round job. Depending on where you live, some safety concerns may only crop up once a year. I wanted to share some tips with you that should always be useful, but for some you may also want to save this to check out again during the warmer months.
Summer is a time for play and relaxation, right? Well, there are some areas where being too laid-back can lead to a trip to the emergency room. You know that whole “ounce of prevention” thing? Well, it can go a long way in keeping kids (and everyone) healthy and in one piece. Since I’m one of those safety obsessed moms, I thought I’d share some information I’ve accumulated. I’ve been asking medical professionals a million questions for years, checking websites, and reading books. Here are some top summer issues, with some tips for prevention and treatment. It’s a few minute read, that could save a life. Oh, and beware, along with being obsessed with safety, I also have a love for statistics. I may be throwing some numbers at you, too. 😀
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I do need to point out that I am NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL! This information is a mix of pro advice and opinions of many, including myself, and is meant to be a helpful reference, not to take the place of a physician’s advice! Any actions you take from this post is your responsibility.
We’ll start with this percentage I found – 15-25%. That’s the estimate of how many more visits to the ER there are in the summer. Now how about this – accidents are the leading cause of death of children ages 0-19. Over 12,000 a year. Does that seem worth it to take some precautions? But, other than that, the summer months see a lot more of some issues than other times of the year. The following info is going to give you some plain tips on prevention and treatment.
Drowning is the #2 cause of accidental death. 2-3 children die a day. They can drown in just a few inches of water in as little as 20 seconds. 10% of drownings occur when an adult is nearby, but has no idea the victim is in trouble. Here’s a few preventative tips:
Have a responsible adult watching. I’d like to point out here that your drunk uncle at a family pool party might not be your best bet.
No running near the pool
Use life jackets, etc., if needed
Swim jackets can be helpful for the little ones first learning in a pool
Have a phone nearby
Types and Signs of Drowning
Aquatic Distress – a person may still be able to assist in their own rescue
Head is low in the water with mouth at water level
Head tilted back with mouth open
Eyes are glassy or closed
Not using legs
Trying to roll onto their back
Gasping or hyperventilating
Swimming without getting anywhere
Climbing an invisible ladder
Silent Drowning – unless you know what to look for, you may not realize the person is drowning. There is 20-60 seconds before submersion occurs. This is what happens as they try to avoid suffocation in the water:
Instinctive Drowning Response
Breathing must happen before speaking, so they WILL NOT CALL FOR HELP
Mouth will sink below water, then reappear – they will be exhaling and inhaling so quickly, there will not be time to call out
Cannot wave for help – the arms will be pressing down on the water, trying to keep the mouth up. They also do not have control of their arms, and cannot reach for rescue while trying to remain above water.
They will be upright in the water
What to Do after pulling out of the water
Alert lifeguard if one is on duty
Check if they are breathing, and if they are not
Check for pulse
Begin CPR if you know it
If they are breathing, put them on their side and they will likely vomit
Dry/Secondary Drowning – this can occur up to 24 hours after a near drowning experience. Look for these signs, and if you see any, call 911 right away:
Blue color on skin or lips
Loss of consciousness
Loss of bowel or bladder control
Why is sun safety important? Sunburns can occur within 15 minutes of being in the sun. A few serious burns when younger increases the risk of skin cancer later in life. Here’s what you can do:
6 months – Adult
SPF 30 every 2 hours. 15-30 minutes before sun exposure, 30 minutes after, and after swimming or sweating. Avoiding the sun between 10-4 is also recommended. (Don’t worry. We all see how impossible this can be when we’re supposed to be getting kids off their butts and outside!) Wear UV blocking sunglasses , protective clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat.
There are some more natural sunscreens out there.
THIS is a chemical and fragrance free choice:
THIS is an organic, vegan, soy-free, gluten-free choice:
Under 6 months
Sunscreen is not approved by the FDA. Read HERE for AAP recommendations. In summary, keep them out of the sun, and if that is unavoidable, put lightweight long sleeves and pants, and a wide-brimmed hat on them. They say small amounts of sunscreen is okay.
If severe, SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP! The following could be signs of sun poisoning:
skin red and blistery
dizziness, woozy or confused
If mild, may experience some pain and itchiness. Some home treatment options:
Place in a cool, not cold, bath
Children’s pain reliever as needed (under doc’s supervision)
Apply cool compresses
Extra fluids for a few days
Moisturizing creams and aloe vera (always consult dr when using creams on any burns)
There is a lot more detailed information on that HERE.
These burns I’m talking about are due to flammable liquids, open flames, campfires, and barbecues. And let’s not forget fireworks! All of these are more common to see in the warmer months. 2 children die every day due to burn related injuries.
What to Do:
Use cool water – no ice!
No home remedies!
Cover burn with a clean bandage
Consult doctor before using any creams
Seek Emergency Medical Attention if:
The burn is large (2-3 inch diameter or bigger)
Is caused by chemical, electrical wire, or socket
Is on face, scalp, hands, joints, genitals
By the time we realize we are thirsty, we are already dehydrated. Maybe not enough to rush to the hospital to get hooked up to an IV full of fluids, but certainly enough to pay attention and get some water to drink. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluids than it is taking in. In warmer months, this can be more common due to episodes of excessive sweating.
Irritability and fatigue – these are the first signs
What to Do/Prevention:
Drink! – this may be obvious, but you can do a lot to prevent dehydration by drinking something (preferably water and definitely caffeine free) every 15 minutes
Call doctor – this may be necessary if there is :
Severe Dehydration – the following can be signs of Heat Cramps, Heat Exhaustion, or Heat Stroke
Nausea or headache
Broken bones/sprains, lacerations, head injuries, ATV accidents – these can certainly occur any time of year, but some are a bit more common in summer months.
Some are just going to be nearly unavoidable, but there are some things that can be done on a regular basis to prevent a lot of injuries:
Car seat and buckle safety
Helmets and pads when appropriate (I swear I’d have my kids walk around with them on if I could get away with it. Oh, and bubble wrap. I’d definitely have them covered in some sort of packing material. 😀 )
For some great head and brain injury prevention info, go HERE.
Some little boo-boos can be treated with a good first aid kit. We have a small take-along version (a few,actually) that easily goes in stroller, diaper bag, car, or even purse. They even come with the all-important stickers! You can get one HERE.
A fully stocked kit for car,camping, sports,etc. can be found HERE.
Here’s when to get emergency medical attention:
Decreased ability to move
Not able to bear weight (older child)
Limping for a day in a child under
Gaping cuts or worries about scarring (face) – repair should be done in 4-8 hours
Okay, so my consistent readers know how important dogs are to me. I definitely don’t want to make them out to be the bad guys here. But, there do seem to be more dog bites in summer months. Dogs who are hot and irritable can get a little snippy, just like people. With the longer hours of rambunctious play outside, there is more opportunity. My dogs have always been my babies, but they are also animals. Animals can be unpredictable when sick or injured, so getting overheated could cause some issues. Always be on guard. Even at a family member’s house when they tell you that their dog lets kids climb all over him. Don’t let your kid be the one to test how far the dog can be pushed. There are over 40,000 facial injuries due to dog bites every year. More than 1/4 of bites are from the family pet.
Never approach an unfamiliar dog
Never pet a dog, even your own, without letting them see and smell you first
Never disturb a dog while they are caring for their young, sleeping, chewing on a toy, or eating
Be aware of rambunctious play, so you can be ready to calm it down if needed
What to Do:
If a dog is attacking you or your child, know that the dog’s weaker points are the back of the head (not the top), the throat, and nose. There is some good information HERE about what to do if approached and/or attacked by an unfamiliar dog.
Dog bites always require a trip to the ER, as soon as possible! There is a high risk of infection, so it needs to be cleaned and antibiotics started.
Warm weather means more bugs + more exposed skin = more bug bites.
Avoid stagnant water
Avoid scented soaps,etc.
Older than 2 months wear insect repellant with 20 % DEET – avoid eyes and mouth, apply to skin and outside of clothes – not under, wash off when you come inside
Don’t scratch and spread the poison – wash area and apply an anti-itch cream, or to go a little more natural, try ice, cool tea bags, vinegar, or mint toothpaste
For a super natural approach, I tested a product you have to try. It’s called The Bug Bite Thing, and here’s what you need to know:
The Bug Bite Thing is an easy-to-use suction pump that quickly and effectively removes the poison beneath the skin’s surface to immediately stop the pain and itch from insect bites. It works on a wide range of bites including mosquitoes, bees, wasps, fire ants and biting flies.
– Instant relief from bug bites and stings
– Clinically proven & kid friendly
– Compact, lightweight and easy to carry
– Unlimited use, no mess and never expires
It’s a known dangerous bite – ex. black widow
Allergy – ex. bees
If you think it may be infected, call your doctor.
Emergency Room vs. Doctor’s Office
Many visits to the Emergency Department with a child could be taken care of in a pediatrician’s office, so unless it’s a known emergency situation, call your doctor and get their input first. This does not mean let your child sit with a gaping wound while you wait for your doc to return your call! But, there are some instances where emergency care is not needed, and others where a pediatric emergency facility will be better than any local urgent care. Adult treatment for splinting and x-rays is different for a child, who is still growing due to open growth plates. And keep in mind, your pediatrician can order x-rays, if that’s what’s keeping you from a visit to their office instead of the ER. On the other hand, pediatricians do not usually insert sutures or staples.
I hope you found some of this information helpful for the safety of your children, and us regular-sized humans,too. Nobody wants the fun of summer ruined by a preventable accident, so keep these tips in mind at home or at your next gathering. Many are just good practice year-round!
If you want some safety tips for dogs, check THIS out!
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