From at-home firework shows to diving into the deep end – the warmer seasons present a host of dangers that can make the school year seem tame in comparison. In fact, most emergency rooms report that their busiest time of year for kids in the summer. But don’t let your worries deter your tot or teen from having fun during their summer vacation. By being vigilant and employing these preventive measures, both you and your child will enjoy a safe and memorable summer.
Here’s a list of common summer injuries and some ways you can protect your child during the summer months.
Playing tag at night, climbing on jungle gyms or over rocks can lead to some nasty falls. If possible, find a playground with soft mulch or shredded tire, as it’s more forgiving when it comes to taking a tumble. If hiking, stay on cleared paths and wear sturdy shoes. Keep areas well lit and if enjoying night time games of tag, jogging or camping, be sure to wear reflective gear. Should your little one fall, address the scrapes and scratches as you would any time of year – clean the wound and apply bacitracin and band-aids; if you fear there is a sprain or fracture, transport your child as carefully as you can, splinting the affected area; or call 911 if you believe moving the child will do more damage or could be detrimental to her health.
Bicycle and Skateboard Injuries
Many children anticipate summer’s long daylight hours as an opportunity for riding bikes in the neighborhood or heading to the skate park but be sure your child is dressed for the occasion. 400,000 children under the age of 19 end up in the ER every year due to bicycle-related injuries. Insist that your child wear a helmet, use hand signals, stay on approved paths and roads, and make sure that their seat and handlebars are properly adjusted for their stature. If skateboarding, encourage them to do so in skate parks and to practice within their abilities.
Fun in the sun is synonymous with summer, but those rays can be dangerous. Ensure your child wear a hat, sunglasses, and a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 15 that will protect the sun’s rays whenever they’re outside. If they’re very young, reapply sunscreen for them – especially when they’re in and out of the water. Stick with lotions, not sprays, and apply liberally, even under light clothing. Be sure not to miss overlooked places such as the ears, lips, nose, and tops of feet!
Even the most experienced swimmer can be at risk of drowning if certain precautions are not taken. Always know where you will be swimming and the water conditions. If you can’t see the bottom of where you will be swimming, assume it is unsafe and never enter the water any other way than foot first, if at all – some areas, like quarries, should be avoided altogether. Beaches pose risks when they are not guarded and you don’t understand (or think you are fine) when it comes to rough surf and riptides. Watch for flags and signs and never venture too far out. Regarding teens, they may feel grown-up by sneaking a beer or wine cooler, but alcohol is one of the leading reasons for accidents on the water. Encourage your teen to stay sober, and remember to lead by example – the kids are watching you!
Stings and Bites
Birds, bees, chiggers, and ticks. No matter the critter, there is a potential for bites. Be sure to check for ticks and chigger bites after hiking, be prepared for bee stings, and no which plants are for picking and some for passing up. When at the beach, take caution for jellyfish. Insist your kids leave scorpions and snakes alone. Promise to take them to a zoo instead of bringing home any exotic creatures.
Whether it’s the Fourth of July or a graduation celebration, fireworks and grilling make an event festive. Just remember to stick to some fire safety rules. Never allow children to be near a grill without adult supervision. When night falls, the beauty of sparklers and fireworks leave all in awe; just make sure they don’t leave behind any scars and are used responsibly. Rather than lighting them off yourself, play it safe and leave it to the professionals to put on a show. Even sparklers advertised as safe can reach temps of 1000˚F and pose a hazard. Check with your local ordinances, as in some areas, firepits, fireworks, and bonfires may be against the law.
Summer camp is as American as apple pie, but it comes with a host of dangers from muscle strains to long days spent in the sun. If your child is making the time-honored pilgrimage to sleepaway camp, be sure to get a recent physical and up-to-date immunizations before their send-off. Lots can change since last year’s physical, including medications and recent injuries. Remember, this may be the last chance for a few weeks to pick up prescription inhalers, athletic eyeglasses, or ADHD medications.
Concussions and Musculoskeletal Injuries
Many kids go to summer sports camps or clinics. Before they go, have an open and honest discussion about your child’s health with the camp staff or coaches. Concussions are of particular concern, as it’s no longer acceptable to “shake it off.” Know what policies your camp has regarding concussions and musculoskeletal injuries, and be sure to understand what the camp’s emergency procedures are before you sign the release waivers.
With these tips, you should be able to prevent most common summer injuries. However, if one does occur, know your options. If you live in or are visiting the San Antonio area, Tots N’ Teens Pediatric Urgent Care can offer convenient and comprehensive care, even after hours, and could save you time and money compared with heading to the ER. Call Tots N’ Teens Pediatric Urgent Care at 210-267-5411 for specialized urgent care services for children up to age 18. Schedule your appointment online, or walk in – the choice is yours.