Learn ways to keep your kids safe and healthy while you enjoy the summer fun together! Here are a few helpful tips for parents about sports, injuries, sun, and more.
Sun and heat safety
Warm, sunny days are a great time to play outside as a family. Sun and heat, however, can cause uncomfortable and even serious illnesses.
Avoid sunburn: Be sure that children and teens wear protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses while outside. Always use a protective sunscreen (SPF 30 or greater) when outside, even on cloudy days. Be sure to reapply after swimming, sweating, and every two to three hours. Infants younger than six months should avoid sun exposure when possible.
Prevent heat-related illnesses
Heat-related illness happens when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. Infants and children up to four years of age are at highest risk because they are unable to regulate their body temperatures as well as adults. Their temperature rises three to five times faster than adults.
For heat-related illness, the best defense is prevention.
- Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are open.
- Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing
- Avoid outdoor activities during midday, which is usually the hottest time of day
Signs of heat exhaustion:
- Severe thirst
- Muscle weakness
- Cold, clammy skin
Signs of heat stroke:
- Severe, throbbing headache
- Weakness, dizziness, or confusion
- Difficulty breathing
- Decreased responsiveness
- Little or no sweating
- Flushed, hot, dry skin
- Temperature above 105°F
Treat a heat-related illness:
- Remove child from heat
- Remove clothing
- Place in cool (tepid) bath (do not use cold water)
- Give cool liquids and use a fan
- Monitor temperature with a thermometer
Seek emergency care if his or her temperature does not subside or if you suspect symptoms of heat stroke.
Protect against insect- and tick-borne diseases
Insect bites are, at best, irritating and uncomfortable. At worst, however, they transmit disease, including Lyme disease. New York state has one of the highest rates of tick-borne diseases in the country.
Prevent bug and tick bites:
- Avoid bare feet in the grass and avoid tall grass
- Avoid scented soaps and perfumes
- Avoid playing near garbage or soda cans
- Use bug spray (Do not use a spray that contains DEET)
- Wear long pants while in wooded or grassy areas
If you find a tick on your child, remove it as soon as possible:
- Use tweezers to grasp the tick firmly near the child’s skin
- Pull firmly and steadily straight out, do not twist
- Do not squeeze the tick body
- Wash area with soap and water
- Do not use petroleum jelly, a lighted match, or nail polish to injure the tick
Seek medical attention if your child shows signs of an allergic reaction to a bug bite or a tick-borne illness. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headaches, fatigue, itching, hives, and swelling.
Summer is an ideal time for children and parents to enjoy playing sports, as well as bike, skate, skateboard, and ride scooters. Be sure to keep your family safe by teaching basic traffic safety and helmet use.
In New York state, children ages one to 14 must wear a certified helmet while bicycling, in-line skating, or using a non-motorized scooter or skateboard. Riders wearing helmets have one-third the risk of sustaining a head injury. Unfortunately, only 20 percent of children wear helmets.
Encourage helmet use by:
- Starting early encouraging young children to wear helmets with his or her first bicycle or scooter
- Letting your child choose his/her helmet
- Setting an example by always wearing your helmet
- Explaining the importance of helmets for preventing head injuries
In addition to encouraging helmet use, be sure to teach basic traffic safety, including:
- Do not ride at dusk or nighttime
- Wear reflective clothing
- Obey road signs
- Always walk across streets
- Learn hand signals
Broken bones (or fractures) are more common during summer months. If you believe your child has a broken bone, be sure to:
- Take your child to an emergency department
- Immobilize it by securing it to something firm
- Apply ice and elevate
- Call 911 if the fingers change color (blue) or cannot move
- Don’t give him or her anything to eat or drink until advised by your doctor (He or she may need strong medication for pain and sedation.)
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way the brain normally works. Concussions can occur in any sport or recreation activity. A concussion causes temporary loss of normal brain function.
Another type of head injury is a hematoma or swelling of the scalp. If the hematoma is inside the skull, it puts increased pressure on the brain, causing brain injury. Neurological abnormalities may result and progress to coma and even death.
Signs of a brain injury may develop immediately, or over first 24 to 72 hours:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Memory loss, especially trouble remembering events before or after the injury
- Blurry vision, sensitivity to light or noise
- Confusion or slurred speech
- Difficulty concentrating, thinking, or making decisions
- Difficulty with coordination or balance
- Anxiety or irritability for no apparent reason
Call 911 if you notice the following symptoms, which indicate a severe concussion:
- He or she is less than two years old
- Loss of consciousness (“passing out” for more than five seconds)
- Your child has blood or clear liquid coming from the nose or ears
- Your child is confused or not acting normally (altered mental status)
- Your child cannot walk normally
- He or she is lethargic, irritable, or difficult to console
- Your child is difficult to awaken or arouse
- He or she has large bump or swelling on head (scalp hematoma)
The best way for children to heal after a concussion is to receive medical attention and rest. Repeat concussions may lead to permanent brain injury, so it is especially important to take precautions after suffering a concussion.
With these tips in mind, we hope that you and your family have your safest and healthiest summer yet!
Be sure to learn more about the comprehensive pediatric services we offer and our Pediatric Emergency Service. Our pediatricians have earned a reputation for providing excellent patient care and educating families to become healthier and safer.