Parents: 5 Summertime Dangers  

by Pool Builders on 06-30-2014 in Articles

It's sunny. It's hot. The kids are out of school.

Summertime is a great time to be outside, but that also makes summer a prime time for kids to experience summertime injuries, such as sunburn, drowning, and dehydration.

Do you know how to prevent or treat common summertime ailments? And just how relevant was that post on secondary drowning that made its rounds on social media last month?

Sunburn

Perhaps the most common summertime danger for children is sunburn, and the severity depends on the precautions parents have taken prior to exposure to sunlight.

Information provided on the American Red Cross website advises people to limit the amount of direct sunlight exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and to wear sunscreen with a skin protection factor of at least 15. The best way to avoid serious sunburn is to cover as much skin as possible and to seek shade often.

Amanda O'Kelly, a pediatrician at Heritage Pediatrics & Internal Medicine in Simpsonville, said using the proper sunscreen and reapplying it often is a must-do for parents.

"You definitely want all kids to wear sunscreen when they are outside playing or swimming, and they need to reapply frequently if they've been swimming or sweating a lot," she said. "The sunburns that kids get now are what causes skin cancer down the road."

She recommends using a sunscreen with no less than a 30 SPF that has both UVA ray and UVB protection.

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Drowning

"We see a lot of drownings during the summer, so it's very important kids are not left unattended around pools or ponds," O'Kelly said.

According to The Centers for Disease Control, children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates, with most drownings occurring in home swimming pools. In fact, it reports that drowning is responsible for more deaths among children ages 1 - 4 than any other cause except birth defects.

"Someone always should be responsible for watching the child and has their eyes on the child near water because we do see drownings happen here," O'Kelly said.

At the end of May, an article made its rounds on social media warning parents of something referred to as "secondary drowning," in which the writer, Lindsay Kujawa, detailed how her toddler almost died hours after inhaling water into his lungs.

So how serious is this condition?

O'Kelly said secondary drowning isn't an officially recognized term in medicine, but it's a real condition of which parents need to be aware.

"If a child has had a significant event, with a significant amount of choking in the water, they need to be evaluated by a physician immediately," she said. "If they're not evaluated by a physician immediately and subsequently have trouble breathing or chest pain, that would be an indication to seek medical care. Sometimes when you inhale even a small amount of water, it can cause further damage to the lungs."

Poison ivy

O'Kelley said her practice sees a lot of patients come in with poison ivy, but warns there's not much parents can do to prevent it other than avoiding areas that could contain the nuisance plant.

"If you think your child has gotten into poison ivy, but you're not sure €" maybe they haven't developed a rash yet, the best thing to do is to immediately give them a bath," she said. "Wash their clothes so that any oils that could still be on their clothes don't irritate their skin more."

If a child develops an itchy rash from it, over-the-counter ointments can relieve symptoms, which should clear up within a couple of weeks.

Heatstroke and dehydration

"It's very important for kids, in particular, to stay well hydrated during summer months because they're much more likely to get dehydrated than an adult," O'Kelly said.

Her advice: keep plenty of fluids available on trips, at sporting events or during playtime outside.

"Encourage kids to take breaks every 30 minutes to an hour to give them a chance to rehydrate and drink more fluid," she said. "That's really important."

Fireworks

It might seem like common sense to some, but "children should not be handling fireworks. Period," O'Kelly said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends families enjoy fireworks at public displays conducted by professionals rather than purchase them for private use. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, children younger than 15 years of age accounted for approximately 30 percent of the estimated 8,700 injuries from fireworks in 2012. Forty-six percent of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age.

"Children really should never be handling fireworks," O'Kelly stressed. "We do sometimes see injuries in the Upstate from kids who've gotten a hold of fireworks and such."

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