Scenario # 1
You and your family – including your four (4) month-old baby – are getting ready to go to the lake for a picnic and a day of fun. You know to use sun screen for the older children and the adults, but how would you protect the baby from the sun?
Scenario # 2
You’re working in your vegetable garden and almost constantly harrassed by bees. You wonder what is attracting them so much when they usually don’t bother you.
Scenario # 3
While visiting her grandparent’s farm, your 14 year-old daughter asks if she can ride around the pasture on the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) her grandfather has to travel around the farm. Do you let her?
Summer accidents are almost always preventable
Every summer, hundreds – if not thousands – of adults and children are treated in Emergency Rooms (ER) across the country after being injured in scenarios such as those outlined above. The bad part is that they are preventable – if folks would only take the time to follow a few simple safety rules.1
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it’s safer for infants (under age six (6) months) if they are not exposed to intense sunlight. If they are going to be exposed – such as on a trip to the lake or the beach – the AAP recommends the use of lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a brimmed hat that shades the neck area. If adequate shade is not available, the AAP recommends that parents apply a minimal amount of sunscreen (with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of atleast 15) to small areas such as the face and the back of the hands.
For older children, the AAP still says the best line of protection from over exposure to the sun is to cover up. They recommend that kids wear a hat with a three (3) inch brim facing foward, sunglasses (preferably that block 99% to 100% of ultraviolet rays), and tightly woven cotton clothing. They also suggest staying in the shade whenever possible and to limit exposure during the hours of peak intensity between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.
The AAP recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 – or higher – for young people who are going to be exposed to bright sun. Make sure to re-apply it every two (2) hours and after swimming.
At the beginning of a strenuous exercise program – or if you are traveling to a warmer climate – initially limit the intensity and duration of exercise and then gradually increase it over a ten (10) to fourteen (14) day period to allow for acclimation to the heat.
The AAP recommends that children be well hydrated prior to prolonged physical activity. Once the activity begins children up to ninety (90) pounds should drink five (5) ounces of cold tap water or a flavored sports drink every twenty (20) minutes. For older children and adolescents up to one hundred thirty (130) pounds they recommend drinking nine (9) ounces of cold tap water or a flavored sports drink every twenty (20) minutes.
Clothing in hot weather needs to be light-colored and lightweight and limited to a single layer of absorbent material to facilitate evaporation of sweat.
Bicycle & All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) safety:
Children should not be pused to ride a 2-wheeled bike until they are ready. Take into consideration the child’s coordination and whether they want to learn to ride a 2-wheeled bike.
When shopping for a bike, take your child with you so they can “try it on.” The value of a properly fitting bike far outweighs the value of surprising them.
Children need to wear a helmet everytime they are on their bike. Many bicycle accidents occur in driveways, on sidewalks and on bike paths – not just on the street.
Bicycle helmets should always be worn in such a manner that it sits level on the rider’s head – not tipped forward or backwards. The chin strap should also be securely fastened and you should not be able to move the helmet in any direction.
Children who are not licensed to drive a car should not be allowed to operate off-road vehicles. Off-road vehicles are particularly dangerous for children younger than sixteen (16) years-old who might not yet have good judgement and lack motor skills.
Anyone riding an off-road or all-terrain vehicle (ATV) should wear a helmet2, eye protection and protective – and reflective – clothing.
Summertime bugs and insects:
The AAP recommends not using scented soaps, perfume(s) or hair spray to keep down the occurrence of insect bites and stings.
One of the easiest ways to prevent insect bites and stings is to avoid areas where they nest or congregate such as stagnant pools of waters (mosquitos) and gardens where flowers are in bloom (bees and yellow jackets).
If a child or adult does get stung, remove the stinger – if it’s visible – by gently scrapping it off horizontally using either your fingernail or a credit card.
Avoid using combination sun screen/insect repellant products because the sun screen will need to be re-applied every two (2) hours but the insect repellent doesn’t need to be re-applied.
In insect repellants containing DEET the concentration can range from as little as ten percent (10%) to thirty percent (30%) with the maximum concentration being thirty percent (30%). The AAP recommends against using products containing DEET on children younger than two (2) months of age.
Summer fire safety:
According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA) outside cooking grills cause more than 6,000 fires each year resulting in more than 170 injuries and over five (5) fatalities. Damage from these fires result in $35 million in property damage. Of this total, the USFA states that gas grills alone result in 2,700 fires each year causing 80 injuries and $11 million in property damage.
Before using a grill, check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line. Make sure that the venturi tubes (where the air and gas mix) are not blocked.
Do not overfill the propane tank.
Do not wear loose clothing – such as dangling sleeves – while cooking with a barbecue grill.
Use caution with lighter fluid. Do not add fluid to a fire that is already lit because the flame can flashback into the container and explode.
Keep all matches and lighters away from children. Teach your children to report any loose matches or lighters to an adult.
Dispose of hot coals properly by dousing them with plenty of water and then stirring them to make sure all fire is extinguished. Never place them in plastic, paper or wooden containers.
Make sure that everyone in the vicinity of the grill knows how to Stop, Drop and Roll in case a piece of clothing does catch fire. If the unthinkable occurs – and someone does get burned – call 911 (or your local emergency number).
1.Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/summertips.cfm)
2.DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is the most common active ingredient in insect repellents. It is intended to be applied to the skin or clothing and is primarily used to protect against insect bites. Particularly it protects against tick bites (which transmit Lyme disease, several rickettsioses, and tick-borne meningoencephalitis) and mosquito bites (which transmit Dengue Fever, West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Malaria).
3.Source: Wikipedia.com (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DEET)