If you’re like most parents, you worry about your children 24/7/365. In fact, if there were 26 hours in the day, you’d worry about that, too!
Not to raise your parental anxiety too far, but summertime, as it turns out, is one of the more dangerous times of the year for kids.
It’s a time of somewhat relaxed supervision, exploration and growth. There’s so much to do, new things to try and new places to be.
What’s a parent (or grandparent) to do? Simple. Educate yourself, your children and their caregivers, and focus on what’s really important! While we’re at it, the children’s health experts at Lexington Clinic would like to offer a few tips for a healthier, safer summer for you and your kids.
Practice water safety
Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury in children. In 2014, 800 kids in the U.S. drowned, most of whom were under the age of five, with two-thirds of these occurring between May and August. Never, ever leave a child unattended around water. Backyard pools should be completely fenced in, with a minimum height of four feet. Gates should be self-closing and have a latch to prevent children from wandering into the pool area unsupervised. Teach kids to never go near water without an adult present. As soon as your child is ready, enroll them in swimming lessons.
Summer often means time with grandparents, aunts and uncles who don’t have kids in the home on a regular basis. If this is the case for your children, be sure to talk about safe storage of medications, household chemicals, laundry products, pesticides and other toxic chemicals.
Nearly 40 percent of ER visits for medication poisoning occurred when a child found grandma/grandpa’s medications, according to Safe Kids International. Store medications in their original, child-resistant containers. If this isn’t possible, lock away medications while the child is present. Don’t forget medications left in a purse, dropped on the floor or on the nightstand!
Other harmful substances, such as laundry packets, cleaning supplies, bug sprays, etc. should be safely and appropriately stored. Never transfer chemicals from one container to another: Should the unthinkable happen, the original container will be essential for helpful instructions!
Exposure to the sun, even at an early age, can have lifelong consequences. Young skin is more vulnerable to the harmful effects of UVA and UVB rays, so be sure to apply waterproof sunblock at least 30 minutes before your child goes out to play. It’s also recommended that parents re-apply sunblock at intervals throughout the day. One of the biggest problems with sunblock is not using enough, so be generous! Babies under 6 months shouldn’t be exposed to the sun; for those over six months, sunblock and sunglasses are mandatory! For questions on the best sunblock to use for your child, especially for young children or babies, please consult your child’s doctor.
Should your child get burned, make sure he/she gets plenty of water or juice to help replace lost body fluids. Bathing in clear, tepid water may help to cool the skin. Apply a light moisturizing lotion, preferably with aloe, to the skin, but don’t rub it in and don’t use any medicated cream unless your doctor tells you to. Sunburns in children under 12 months should be treated by a doctor immediately. Older children should be seen by a doctor if there is severe pain, blistering, lethargy or fever more than 101 degrees.
Kids in cars
It’s hard to believe that anyone could forget a child in a hot car, but every year it happens. In 2017, 42 kids lost their lives because they were left in a hot car. Already this year, six children have died of vehicular-related heatstroke, according to statistics compiled by the Department of Meteorology & Climate Science at San Jose State University.
One of the best ways to ensure everyone exits the car is to always put your purse, cellphone, briefcase or other item in the back seat. This helps force you to look in the back of the car every single time you exit. It’s something simple, but it’s a good habit that could help save a child’s life. There are also several technology-based solutions to help avoid this issue. Things like seat pressure sensors for your child’s car seat can warn parent before they exit the vehicle.
It’s also important to teach your children that cars are not for playing, or hiding, under any circumstances. Always lock your car and put the keys and remotes out of reach.
With more than 60 primary care providers, including pediatrics, in 10 different locations throughout Central Kentucky, Lexington Clinic is ready to help you and your children through all the days of summer. For more information or to find a location near you, please visit LexingtonClinic.com or call (859) 258-4362.