It's finally feeling like summer here on the East Coast and everyone is counting down to the end of the school year. While summer brings with it many great activities such as boating, swimming and hiking, it also brings tons of potential dangers to your family. According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, an estimated 40 percent of all injury-related emergency room visits and 42 percent of all injury-related deaths happen between May and August. Nothing ruins a great vacation or family outing like a trip to the emergency room. However by taking a few precautions, like the ones described below, you can reduce your chances of preventable accidents or injuries.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, getting one blistering sunburn as a child doubles your chances of developing melanoma later in life. Regardless of age and skin type, it is recommended that you choose a sunscreen that protects from both UVA and UVB rays. Choose a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and apply it 15 to 30 minutes before going outside.
According to the CDC, nearly 400 people die every year from heat-related illness. Mild symptoms of heat exhaustion may include feeling thirsty, feeling fatigued and suffering from leg or abdominal cramps. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heatstroke. Heatstroke is a much more serious condition and can be fatal. Symptoms may include any of the following: dizziness, trouble breathing, headaches, rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, confusion and changes in blood pressure. Kids are more susceptible to heat illnesses than adults because their central nervous systems are not yet fully developed. Staying well hydrated in hot weather can help reduce the risk of heat-related illness. Keep water or sports drinks that contain electrolytes on hand to maintain hydration.
Secondary drowning has recently been a hot topic for discussion among parents due to an increase in incidents. Secondary drowning happens when you breathe in water instead of swallowing water. Symptoms typically appear within two to 24 hours. Secondary drowning is survivable if you get help at the first sight of the warning signs. Coughing, difficulty breathing, breathing fast, listlessness and sudden mood swings are the primary symptoms. The symptoms generally resemble a bad asthma attack or other severe respiratory illness.
When going in for a swim, be alert to the signs of rip currents. Your first line of defense is to read the surf forecast before you head to the beach. Remember your chances of surviving a rip current — or any other beach-related hazard — are greatly increased if you're swimming off a beach staffed by lifeguards.
Never leave kids alone near the pool, no matter what their ages or swim capabilities are. Installing fencing around pools, at least 5-feet high, all the way around and with a self-closing, self-latching gate, can prevent 50 to 90 percent of accidental drowning incidents. It is a good idea to practice "touch supervision" — a term used by the American Academy of Pediatrics — meaning that at all times, the supervising adult is within an arm's length of the child being watched.
Poison ivy, as well as poison oak and sumac, contains an oil called Urushiol, which causes an allergic reaction when it comes in contact with skin in about 85 percent of the population. The subsequent rash that develops will only appear where the skin came in contact with the plant's oil, but it can be spread through indirect contact. Symptoms of a poison ivy rash may include: itchy skin, redness or red streaks, small bumps or hives and blisters that drain fluid when popped. Wearing clothing that covers a good amount of skin will help reduce your risk.
Planning to spend time outside means planning to spray yourself and your kids with insect repellent. Repellents don't kill insects, but they can help reduce bites from mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and other pesky bugs. There are different types of repellents: those that contain Deet and those that don't. Use insect repellents containing Deet on kids sparingly since it can be toxic to children in high quantities
Outdoors-y types aren't the only ones who need to worry about ticks. You could pick one up in your own yard while gardening or playing outside. To prevent tick bites, wear light-colored clothing and shoes during the summertime because they help keep you cooler and can be easier to spot ticks on than darker clothing. Tucking your pant legs into your socks can help prevent ticks from crawling up your legs or into your shoes. Do a tick check on everyone in the family every night. Contracting a tick-borne illness can take up to 36 hours if a tick isn't removed, so you want to be prompt and thorough.
Danielle Moser is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached via email at email@example.com.