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North Hills Monthly

Protect Children from Summer Dangers

Jul 01, 2017 10:26PM ● By Clare Heekin Lynch

Summertime means warm weather and outside fun. It’s the perfect time for kids to enjoy the sacred rituals of childhood summer–cookouts, road trips, camps and pool time. But pediatricians are warning parents not to let their guard down as everyone enjoys a little rest and relaxation.

Whether you have young children or teens, Dr. Anthony Kovatch with Pediatric Alliance–Arcadia Division, wants to keep your kids safe and healthy while they enjoy summer fun. “The most important thing for parents to do is to get the appropriate information on how to prevent injuries,” said the North Hills’ pediatrician. “Being vigilant, informed and prepared to handle the most common dangers will definitely ease your fears.” 

Summer Danger #1: Ticks 

Bug bites go hand-in-hand with warmer temperatures. “Tick bites are the most common calls my practice receives, especially after hours and on weekends,” said Dr. Kovatch. “Ticks are very hard to detect–they’re small and they attach themselves in dark areas.”

Dr. Kovatch recommends that people shower after being outside, check their bodies every day (paying close attention to the head, behind the ears, under socks, and in private areas), and use a preventative topical spray or cream (for example, Picaridin, which can be bought over-the-counter). 

He added, “Also dress in light-colored long sleeves and pants, and tuck your pants legs into your socks to cut-off entrance to the skin if you’re going to be in high grass or wooded areas.”

Summer Danger #2: Dehydration

Kids are less likely than adults to remember to drink fluids–especially when they're having fun playing outside. “When you sweat, you lose fluids,” the pediatrician explained. “It’s important to take breaks and not wait until you’re thirsty, because by then it’s too late! Stay away from caffeinated energy drinks, start hydration well before that sports practice or game, and remember to replenish any lost electrolytes.”

Summer Danger #3: Burns

Sunscreen is not just for the beach! It is important for parents to apply sunscreen to their children regularly when they engage in any outdoor activities, even on overcast days. “Because children are outside a lot, they risk overexposure to the sun, which can lead to painful sunburns and potential skin cancer later in life,” Dr. Kovatch said. “The use and reapplying of sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher will help keep skin safe and healthy.”

Camp fires and barbecues are another source of burn injuries. “These are fun activities, but parents should keep a close eye when the fires are lit,” said Dr. Kovatch.

Summer Danger #4: Drowning

Drowning is the cause of 30 percent of unintentional deaths in toddlers 1 to 4 years old, and most accidents happen in backyards that are considered safe. “The most effective means of prevention is to never leave children unsupervised when they are in water,” Dr. Kovatch said. Other tips include keeping a fence around larger pools to prevent unsupervised access, taking swim lessons and using life-jackets when in the water. 

“Even tiny children can learn to swim to the side and hold on,” said the doctor, “but constant, careful supervision is key.”

Dr. Kovatch also wants parents to know that the risk of drowning doesn’t end when out of the water either. 

“Dry and/or secondary drowning can happen when your child breathes water into his lungs; it can be a result of something as simple as getting water in his mouth or getting dunked,” said Dr. Kovatch. Be aware if your child becomes irritable, struggles to breathe, or starts vomiting after being in the water. Get them immediate help.

Summer Danger #5: Injuries

Unintentional injuries, or preventable accidents, are the leading cause of death in children, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. This encompasses everything from car accidents and falls, to drowning and even the accidental discharge of a firearm.

“Make sure your kids wear their helmets and other protective gear when riding their bikes, skating or riding scooters. Buckle up and use age-appropriate child safety seats on those summer road trips and keep the little ones in the back seat—front seat airbags can hurt them,” said Dr. Kovatch. 

While you don’t need to be the “summer cop” and lock your kids indoors, there’s no reason for a child to be hurt if you can prevent it from happening. 

“Summer is a time for having fun, and a few bug bites and scrapes are worth it!” said Dr. Kovatch. “Just make sure that you are aware of the dangers and don’t delay treatment– delaying just makes it harder for us to treat the injuries and it will be longer until your child can be back outside having fun!”