In the US every summer, approximately 2.7 million children ages 14 and under are treated in emergency rooms for accidental injuries. Injury prevention experts at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan say more children are accidentally injured during the summer months than any other time of year.
Injury prevention specialist Jennifer Hoekstra shares the following tips for families kicking off the summer season:
- Stay out of cold water. Favorite swimming spots can still be cold in early summer months. Temperatures fluctuate from day to day in many inland lakes. Resist the urge to swim until water temperatures rise above 70 degrees.
- Watch out for heat stroke. Know how to identify heat stroke. Limit your exposure to high temperatures and take breaks by going indoors to rest in air conditioning. Try finding a shady spot and be sure children have adequate rest and hydration after play.
- Drink water, not a diet cola. You cannot stay properly hydrated on Diet Coke or alcoholic beverages. Drink lots of water if you are going to be in the heat. If you experience dizziness or light headedness, find a cool shady spot, sit down, and drink more water.
- Know your prescriptions. Many prescription drugs can trigger increased sensitivity to sunburn. Read labels carefully on any medication you are taking before going out in the sun.
- Wait before you take a bite out of that peach! Take the time to wash any fruits or vegetables purchased at local farmers markets. It is likely these items have not been washed and may have dirt or bacteria lingering.
- Don’t leave kids alone in the car. This warning is simple and very serious. Do not leave your children unattended in your vehicle for any period of time. Within 10 minutes the temperature inside a vehicle rises by 20 degrees and by 40 degrees in an hour. If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911.
- Be a water watcher. Whether your children are in a backyard swimming pool, at a community center or swimming in a lake, always watch them. Swimming pools are the most common site for drowning among children 4 and under.
- Pick out the right shades. Bring along a pair of sunglasses that provide adequate UV protection. Most brands come with labels stating if they are effective against the sun’s harmful rays. Grab your kids a colorful and fun pair too.
- Always assume the fire is hot. A good rule of thumb is to stay away from a fire pit for 24 hours after use. Coals don’t have to be glowing red to be hot and dangerous.
- Don’t walk distracted. When walking to friends’ houses or the neighborhood pool, teach kids to put down their cell phones and not take photos while walking or crossing the street. Always make eye contact with drivers before crossing and use designated crosswalks.