Do you know these summertime safety must-dos?

Do you know these summertime safety must-dos?

With summer in full swing and children of all ages spending more time outdoors, it’s important to keep safety top of mind.

I’ve witnessed many preventable injuries over the years, with many occurring in the summer months when children are out of school and more active. Here are my top tips for summertime safety so you and your family can create fun and safe memories this year.

1. Wear a helmet

We often associate helmet use with bike riding and forget that other activities can also cause head injuries. Skull fractures, concussions and scalp lacerations are injuries that can occur without the use of proper equipment. Wear a helmet and protective gear when riding bikes, scooters, 4-wheelers/ATVs, segways, skateboards and hoverboards.

2. Use proper swim equipment

Choking, drowning and near-drowning events are unfortunately all too common. Pool accessories like noodles, inflatable rafts and arm floaties are great for games and activities, but they should not be used as floatation devices. When swimming in open spaces and large bodies of water, don’t underestimate the effects of wind gusts on currents and waves, which can overpower even the most experienced swimmers. For young and inexperienced swimmers, use life vests. Never swim alone and choose bodies of water with lifeguards on duty, making sure you remain visible to them.

3. Wear sunscreen

Sunburns, blistering and sun rashes (photodermatitis) are not only painful results of sun exposure but can have long-term consequences. Use SPF sunscreen and reapply during the day as needed. For young infants, use light protective clothing, sun hats and swimsuits with long sleeves.

4. Prevent bug bites

Mosquito and other insect bites can cause local allergic reactions or skin infections, also known as cellulitis. Use insect repellants and protective clothing when going out in wooded areas or areas with a large number of insects. Some tick bites can lead to Lyme disease. If your child gets bit by a tick, remove it immediately. Monitor them for early signs of Lyme disease, which include a red target-like rash (erythema migrans), fever, chills, and joint and muscle pain. See your physician if these symptoms occur.

5. Stay hydrated

Inadequate fluid intake can quickly lead to dehydration, especially in hot summer weather. Signs of dehydration include headaches, lightheadedness, dizziness and fainting. Children need between 4-8 cups of water each day depending on their age. Guided water bottles often help children stay on track with their daily intake.

6. Use caution on playground equipment

Improper and unsupervised use of playground equipment can lead to falls, head injuries, wrist fractures (buckle fractures), ankle injuries (sprains, fractures), collarbone/clavicle fractures and cuts/lacerations.

7. Stay away from fireworks

Without proper handling and training, fireworks can be extremely dangerous and cause permanent damage, including burns, finger injuries, amputations and fires. You can enjoy fireworks this summer by attending fireworks displays, summer festivals and carnivals.

8. Be careful at that cookout

Cooking comes with dangers, especially laceration injuries from knives and burns from grills, open flames, hot liquid spills, oil and grease. The best way to involve children in meal preparation is to have them assist with cooking away from the heat source. Have children participate in mixing/stirring foods and preparation tasks in the kitchen.

Avoid food that has been sitting out for long periods of time, especially cream- and mayonnaise-based foods, raw food, seafood and cold cut sandwiches. Not properly chilling and storing foods can lead to food-borne illnesses that can present as vomiting and/or diarrhea, upset stomach and abdominal pain.

9. Skip the screen time

Ditch the devices. Although we love our electronic devices, prolonged use can lead to headaches, trouble concentrating, eye strain and sleep disturbances. Get outside! Take walks, play in the park, have picnics, take field trips to museums, the zoo or botanical gardens. Smaller children can participate in scavenger hunt activities around the neighborhood or on day trips (ask them how many different animals they can find and name). Bring colored pencils and have children sketch animals or flowers they see at specific locations.

Dr. Adia George is a pediatric hospitalist at Advocate Children’s Hospital and the medical director of the Chicagoland Children’s Health Alliance Immediate Care. The Chicagoland Children’s Health Alliance (CCHA) is the partnership between Advocate Children’s Hospital, NorthShore University HealthSystem and UChicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital. 

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One Comment

  1. I would warn people about kids running up a slide. I warned my daughter about that and she didn’t listen. She fell and had to be taken to the ER. She knocked her top and bottom central and lateral incisors very loose. The attending dentist put them back into place and put amalgam on them. Followed up one month later. She later went on to need a sort of root canal on one because the roots weren’t spreading. A year later she came home with a swollen upper lip. She was hit in the mouth with a soccer ball. The tooth was removed as it had been too traumatized. When I take my grandkids to the park I see kids running up slides frequently.

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Dr. Adia George

Dr. Adia George is the medical director of the Chicagoland Children’s Health Alliance Immediate Care in Wilmette. The Chicagoland Children’s Health Alliance (CCHA) is the partnership between Advocate Children’s Hospital, NorthShore University HealthSystem and UChicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital. Our goal is to support patients’ and families’ needs for the highest level of pediatric care with easier access to our network of pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists across Chicagoland. These subspecialists work collaboratively at our Wilmette Outpatient Center.