Living Well: Summer fun raises risk of health, safety issues for children of all ages
From swimming incidents to sunburns to mosquito attacks, it’s easy for a fun day to turn miserable for children who aren’t properly prepared for summertime fun.
To make sure your child does more laughing than crying this summer, here are some things to keep in mind.
Here’s how to effectively supervise children near any body of water:
- Pay close, constant attention. Do not get distracted with other activities (such as reading, playing games, using the cellphone or mowing the lawn), even if lifeguards are present.
- Avoid using alcohol or drugs around the water, especially when supervising others.
- For younger children and weak swimmers, get in the water with them. “Touch supervision” is essential! Even if you are not swimming but there is a pool or body of water nearby, always keep children within arm’s reach. If you must leave, take the child with you.
- Don’t leave a baby or young child in or near any body of water under the care of another child.
- Especially during parties or picnics at the pool or lake, when it’s easy to get distracted, assign a “water watcher” whose job is to constantly keep eyes on the child in or near the water. Take turns, passing along a water watcher card to the next responsible adult after a set time (such as 15 minutes).
- Remember that the primary drowning risk for toddlers age 1-4 is unanticipated, unsupervised access to water. Children are naturally curious and commonly slip away unnoticed during non-swim times.
- Always use life jackets when in, on or near natural bodies of water, such as lakes or rivers. Make sure they fit properly and are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Weak swimmers should also wear life jackets when at a pool or water park.
- Know how to recognize signs of distress and respond when there is trouble. Everyone, including parents, caregivers and older children, should learn CPR and safe rescue techniques to respond to a drowning incident. Water safety is a family affair!
*Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
Pediatric care at MRH
Memorial Regional Health’s pediatric team takes the time to get to know your family to ensure you’re always satisfied with the care provided for your loved ones.
MRH pediatricians have experience working with babies, children, adolescents and young adults, seeing patients from birth until they’re 21 years old. Pediatric services include:
- Well child checks
- Sports physical exams
- Infections and injuries
- Genetic defects
- Organic diseases and dysfunctions
Call 970-826-2480 to make an appointment or to learn more about MRH’s pediatric team and services.
Colorado might be land-locked, but there are plenty of swimming spots in lakes, rivers and pools where kids enjoy splashing around.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swim lessons for children to protect against drowning. Children develop at different rates, but many children can start these lessons around age 1. By age 4, most children are ready for swim lessons.
Swimming lessons are very important, and supervision is also essential, said Kevin Monahan, Pediatrics Physician Assistant at Memorial Regional Health. He recommends keeping children close — an arm’s length away is ideal — while near bodies of water for constant, attentive supervision.
“Always keep in mind that swim lessons are just one of several important layers of protection needed to help prevent drowning. Another layer includes constant, focused supervision when your child is in or near a pool or any body of water,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. “It also is essential to block access to pools during non-swim time. The Consumer Product Safety Commission found that 69 percent of children under the age of 5 years were not expected to be in the water at the time of a drowning.”
Heat and sun
More time outdoors means more exposure to heat and the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. The best way to beat the heat is to stay hydrated, Monahan said.
“Babies are at an increased risk for heat illness as they don’t sweat as well. Keep babies less than 6 months old out of direct sun, if possible,” he said.
Children should wear light clothes and hats, and sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 should be reapplied every couple of hours, Monahan said. Zinc oxide is also very effective sun protection, but stay away from oxybenzone, he said.
In Colorado and throughout the West, tick bites can cause Colorado Tick Fever, a disease spread to people through bites of infected ticks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that symptoms include fever, chills, headache, body aches and feeling tired. While rare, you can take steps to avoid getting the disease by using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, avoiding wooded and bushy areas with high grass, and performing thorough tick checks after spending time outside.
Mosquitoes, which are expected to be prolific this summer, can carry West Nile, the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the U.S. About one in five people infected with West Nile Virus develop a fever and other symptoms, while about one in 150 people develop serious illness that can sometimes be fatal, according to the CDC. Avoid mosquito bites by wearing insect repellant and wearing long-sleeves and long pants.
“Applying DEET or other bug repellents such as picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, can help prevent bites,” Monahan said. “In kids older than 2 months, products with permethrin can be applied to clothes only.”
Injuries are the leading cause of death in children, but most can be prevented. In order to protect children from any injury ranging from minor to severe, it’s important to ensure kids are wearing proper shoes and gear — including helmets, eye protection, sun protection and clothing — every time they head outside. Always supervise young children around fall hazards, such as stairs or playground equipment.
The CDC has a helpful list of tips for keeping children safe at home, at play or, for teenagers, on the job at http://www.cdc.gov/family/kids/summer.