Summer Saftey Tips

Written by: Douglas Bolin, MBA, Director of Operations at the Children’s Home Network

            Summer kicks off in June which is also National Safety Month. While Florida tends to be warm almost all year round, the summer brings the warmest temperatures and some of the greatest risks. The beautiful weather, outside activities and fun are plentiful this time of year. Unfortunately, so are opportunities for heat related illnesses, insect bites, water and swimming pool dangers and many more summer activity risks.

Below are some summer safety tips we incorporate at the Children’s Home Network that can help keep your family safe this summer. The following are tips that apply for most children, however, please consult your child’s pediatrician prior to making any changes in diet or exercise for the individual medical needs for your family.

Heat Related Illnesses and Sunburn

            The key to avoiding overheating is to stay hydrated and avoid lengthy sun exposure. Don’t wait for a child to tell you that he or she is thirsty. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child is already becoming dehydrated when he or she asks for something to drink. It is important to offer lots of fluids when they go outside, and again once they are inside playing and frequently thereafter.

Additionally, hot and humid weather can lead to blocked sweat glands that lead to nasty rashes in the folds of children’s skin. If this occurs, place your child in a cool, soap less bath. Dry the child completely then apply cornstarch powder to the rash, and avoid unnecessary clothing. The rash should clear up in two to three days. 

            Avoid sunburns like the plague. It goes without saying the best way to avoid a sunburn is to stay out of the sun, but during the summer months that can be nearly impossible. Always apply at least an SPF 15 sunscreen to exposed skin 30 minutes before exposure. Whenever possible, provide shade for your child and don’t let them in the sun for too long. If sunburn occurs and your child starts to feel ill, consult your pediatrician. 

Never leave your child in a car unattended

The next time you are alone in your car, turn it off and count to 60. Within one minute your car can increase by ten degrees. Under no circumstances should a child ever be left in a car.  Even the best parents and caregivers have been known to forget about a sleeping child in the backseat.

Try this idea: Keep a small stuffed animal in your car and every time you get in the car with a small child or infant, place the stuffed animal in your lap to remind you that your child is in the car. Another good idea is place your purse/laptop bag in the backseat with your child, so you have to get in the backseat before leaving your car. This is especially useful in the mornings and this may save your child's life.

Water Safety and Swimming Pool Safety

            According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 2005-2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings that were non-boating related, annually in the United States. This is about ten deaths per day. An additional 332 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents. About one in five people who die from drownings are children 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries. Those numbers are scary and beyond heartbreaking. For that reason, when around any body of water with young children and poor swimmers, stay within arm's reach.  Here are a few tips from the Red Cross on pool/water safety:

1.      Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.

2.      Do not trust a child's life to another child.

3.      Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.

4.      Establish rules for your family and consistently reinforce their importance.

5.      Safety covers and pool alarms should be added as additional layers of protection.

6.      Teach children to always ask permission to go near water!

7.      If you are around water and your child is missing ALWAYS check the water first. Seconds count.

            Secondary drowning occurs after a child has struggled in the water. It is rare and accounts for only 1-2% of drowning cases, but still be aware that if your child has struggled in the water and swallowed water as a result, secondary drowning is possible. Look for these warning signs:

a.       Trouble Breathing, chest pain, or cough

b.      Sudden change in behavior

c.       Extreme Fatigue

Insect Stings and Bites

            With the heat and nice weather come bugs. Unfortunately, floral prints and bright colors attract bees and wasps, and so do hands that are sticky from candy and other summer treats. If you are going to a park or area that you know will have a high concentration of bugs, bees and wasps it is best to stick to clothing with muted light, solid colors. If you or your child is stung, don't pull out the stinger with fingers or tweezers. Scrape gently with a credit card to push the stinger out in the direction in which it entered. Once the stinger is out, you can make a paste out of baking soda and water, or a 0.5 percent hydro cortisone cream. Either will provide relief.

            Regarding insect repellents, DEET can be toxic! Repellents with 10 to 30 percent concentrations of DEET can be used on exposed skin, clothing and shoes, but do not apply it to little faces or hands. If you want to avoid DEET, the CDC recommends repellents that are made up with picaridin or oil of lemon and eucalyptus plants. Both of these are non-toxic and work just as well as low levels of DEET.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the CDC recommend that for children older than 2 months of age, use 10% to 30% DEET. DEET should never be used on children younger than 2 months of age. Be wary of combination sunscreen and insect repellent products as sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, but the insect repellent should not be reapplied.

Every summer, we provide our children at Kids Village, the opportunity to participate in our annual Murphey Games- a friendly competition of Olympic-style activities. Many muster up the “courage to try” through running races, biking and swimming throughout the summer games. If you would like to purchase supplies for the boys and girls residing at Kids Village, please visit our registry!

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