Summer Safety Tips

Summer is here and with it comes more outdoor activity and travel. Whether you’re going to the beach, mountains, woods, summer camp, or simply playing outside, please remember that along with the fun there are some hazards to be aware of and precautions to take. The following tips will help you keep your kids safe and happy all summer

Sunscreen: Use an SPF of at least 30 which filters out 97% of the harmful rays. Apply every 2 – 2 1/2 hours; make sure it is water resistant. Apply at least 1 teaspoon to the face. Also consider a hat, sunglasses, and clothing with a UV protection factor (the best color for absorbing UV rays is dark blue!).

Insect Repellent: Don’t forget that bug sprays should contain at least 10% DEET to effectively prevent mosquito bites. At this concentration, you and your children should be protected for about two hours. Picaridin is another chemical found in some insect repellents that has also been shown to be safe and effective to use with children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is a plant based compound that has been shown to be as protective as products with “a low concentration” of DEET.

Heat exhaustion vs. heat stroke: Heat plus humidity are particularly dangerous. If your child develops flu-like symptoms (headache, vomiting, muscle cramps, no appetite) plus sweating present in hot and humid weather, they need fluids, rest in a cool place, glucose, and observation. Heat stroke is present when these symptoms are accompanied by bizarre behavior, confusion, dizziness, wobbly gait, or any neurological symptoms with or without sweating. This requires rapid cooling in an Emergency Room.

Poison Ivy: Wash off immediately! 50% of the oil is already in the skin after 10 minutes. Treatment is topical steroids such as 1% hydrocortisone creams. Severe cases sometimes require oral steroids. Wash it off skin and clothes as soon as possible.

Acute Mountain Sickness (Altitude Sickness): This can occur at altitudes of 5000-11,500 feet and is just as common in children as in adults. Symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, and frequent awakening during sleep. Symptoms typically last about 16 hours. Although drinking water does not prevent altitude sickness, it does prevent dehydration which can have similar symptoms. Ginko biloba is an over-the-counter supplement that may be helpful in preventing and treating Acute Mountain Sickness. Diamox is a prescription medicine that can also help in extreme cases.

Lightning Injuries: There are about 100-200 deaths per year in the United States due to lightning strikes, with the majority in Florida and Colorado. Safety awareness is the best prevention. Be alert of warning signs such as darkening skies and increasing wind. Count the number of seconds from “flash to bang” and divide by 5 to figure out how far away the lightning is in miles. Get out of harms way if the lightning is 10-20 miles away or less. Stay away from open fields, get out of a boat and away from water, trees, ridges, cliffs, fences, or poles. Find a low spot away from high trees or rocks. If in a group spread out, and minimize contact with the ground. Remember, if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning so be cautious!

Hazardous Marine Life: Sharks, though surrounded by much myth and folklore, only cause 50–100 attacks worldwide (1/5,000,000 chance of being attacked along North American coastline). Jellyfish stings cause burning, itching, swelling and often hives. Treatment is to apply 5% white vinegar immediately; do not rinse with fresh water. Vinegar should also be applied to stings from fire coral and Portuguese man-of-war.