Summer Safety Tips Can Help Prevent Injuries for Children, Teens
Injuries and heat and sun related health issues are common during the summer, particularly among teens and children. David Mansour, MD, says "Many of those problems can be prevented, and most of it is common sense."
"No matter what we do, there are a certain percentage of kids who are going to be injured," says Dr. Mansour, noting that injures are very common for kids who skate, skateboard and/or ride bikes. Safety gear is a major way to prevent or lessen injuries. But parents, and children, aren't the best at policing use of that equipment. "It's not that we don't know what to do, it's the will to do it," says Dr. Mansour, both a pediatrics and internal medicine physician at MetroHealth Strongsville Health Center.
Wrist and knee pads might be the difference between a skater or skateboarder's bruised knee and multiple stitches, a wrist sprain or a fracture. Helmets for all three activities can save lives and prevent brain damage.
Dr. Mansour says parents should not judge a child's ability to understand safety rules according to age. "It's more about maturity. For instance, do they pay attention to traffic lights and stop signs? Are their bike tires inflated properly? Are the surfaces they are on safe? If they're using a skatepark, are the jumps and ramps constructed well?"
Even playgrounds can be hazardous. Parents should inspect equipment, checking that bolts are secure and that surfaces are safe.
Safety In the Sun
There are some key concerns during the summer, including:
- Preventing sunburn, both in and out of the water. "Sunblock is key," says Dr. Mansour. Use blocks with SPF 15 or higher and reapply it every two hours. Waterproof sunblock can protect kids for up to 80 minutes of water time.
- Pool scares. Water safety and learning to swim are essentials for children of all ages. Parents should also be vigilant about any pool-related infections, checking in regularly with pool management and lifeguards to be certain these aren't occurring with other patrons of the swim area.
- Cover up. Wear a hat with a 3-inch brim or a bill facing forward, sunglasses that block 99-100% of ultraviolet rays and cotton clothing with a tight weave.
- Say in the shade when possible; avoid sun exposure during peak hours, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
- Sunscreen, reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
- Drink non-caffeinated beverages.
Beat the Bugs
"A lot of people don't know about bug safety," says Dr. Mansour. "We go to these wonderful parties with lots of things in bloom, lots of food around, water in pools and wearing colorful clothes, and we make ourselves very attractive to these bugs."
He says there is a lot of misunderstanding about using products with DEET, and people get bitten because of it. "We don't put a lot of bug spray on ourselves. In general, products with 10% DEET are very, very safe." Once sprayed on, "It's pretty effective for the next two to three hours, and somewhat effective up to five." Once inside for the day, the residue should be washed off.