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Published on July 09, 2013

Brave the Summer Elements

July 9, 2013

Brave the Summer ElementsAccording to the national Safe Kids 2007 campaign on summer safety, 40 percent of injury-related emergency room visits for children younger than 14 occur during the summer months. Many of these injuries can be prevented by keeping kids safe from common warm-weather threats. Dangers for younger children that increase between May and August include:

Sun exposure, which may result in sunburn, heat exhaustion or dehydration. A few episodes of severe sunburn during childhood may increase the chances of getting skin cancer as an adult. Younger children are also at higher risk for other sun-related injuries, including heat stress.

Drowning, which is the second-leading cause of injury-related fatalities in school-age children. Drowning can occur in a matter of minutes in a few inches of water, but it can be prevented by closely supervising kids while they are in or near the water.

Stings and bites from bees, wasps, ticks, mosquitoes and other harmful bugs, which can be problematic for children during the warmer months when the insect population is prevalent. Insects such as ticks can transmit Lyme disease, and mosquitoes can spread West Nile virus.

Preventing Injuries in Children

Prevention is the best way to avoid outdoor injuries. Here are some tips to keep your child safe when playing outside.

  • Avoid midday heat: That’s when the sun’s ultraviolet rays are most dangerous. It only takes 15 minutes for unprotected skin to be affected by the sun. If your child must be outside for a sporting or family event, scout out a shady area where he can stand or sit.
  • Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 every two hours. Apply to all exposed skin 30 minutes before going outdoors, and reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating, even if the sunscreen is waterproof or if the weather is overcast or cloudy. Cover ears, eyes and faces with hats and sunglasses.
  • Stay hydrated—especially when participating in physical activities—by drinking plenty of water at least every 20 minutes and replacing electrolytes after an hour of heavy exertion. Watch out for signs of overheating, which can include fatigue or excessive sweating.
  • Swimming lessons can prevent drowning-related deaths and incidents. Children ages 5 or older should be taught how to swim, and parents should take CPR lessons.
  • Insect repellant containing DEET or picaridin should be applied to avoid stings and bites. Do not use repellants that are combined with sunscreen because reapplication is not needed for insects. Check your children for ticks after they come in from outdoors.

Taking the necessary precautions against outdoor hazards can help parents and kids avoid trips to the emergency room and have a fun, healthy summer.


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