Keeping Kids Healthy This Summer
Posted June 23, 2012
Summer is a great time for kids to get active and enjoy spending time outside.
But outdoor activities can also pose health risks, so it's important to take certain precautions to keep kids safe in summer.
SUNBURNS, AND BONE BREAKS
Dr. Janice Chleborad, a Woodward pediatrician, said the top injury she sees among children during the summer is sunburn.
"Be sure they use sunblock to prevent it, and get in shade often," Chleborad said.
Treatments include applying a cool cloth and lotions that contain aloe vera, she noted.
"Along with that, kids need to avoid heat exhaustion by staying hydrated, and take frequent rest breaks," Chleborad said. "This means hydrating with water."
Next on her list of injury occurrences are broken bones, suffered by falling out of trees, trampoline mishaps, and bike and other wheeled vehicle incidents.
Chleborad indicated to keep them from happening, follow instructions for safe use included with trampolines, and wear knee and elbow pads when riding a bicycle or a skateboard, plus a helmet.
Lawnmower use may cause injuries.
Chleborad said to watch where the kids are when you are operating a push mower, and assure they don't run up and startle you, which could cause you to strike them.
"Kids, and adults, need to be aware of items being thrown from the mower, like rocks and sharp objects," Chleborad said. "Just stay clear of the mowing. And I don't recommend that a child under 10 drive a riding lawnmower."
BE SAFE WHEN WALKING
Safety when walking on a street is important anytime, the pediatrician said, but more youngsters being out and about in the summertime, increases the risk of being struck by a car.
"They need to walk facing the traffic, so they can easily be seen by a driver," she said. "And if there are signals nearby, cross a street where they are."
However, Chleborad is aware that many children cross streets anywhere and everywhere.
If they're planning to, such as in the middle of a block, they need to stop for a moment and look both ways while stationary before venturing across the roadway, she said.
FOOD SPOILS WHEN LEFT UNPROTECTED
A safety measure many people overlook often during the hot summer is proper care for food, the doctor said.
Keep food cool, Chleborad said, in an ice chest or the refrigerator, or apply cold packs to eliminate food poisoning risks. One problem food is mayonnaise, the doctor said, because the egg-based condiment can spoil exceptionally fast. Other foods to be cautious of include lunch meat, cooked meats, chicken, and potato and pasta salads.
NO KIDS LEFT IN CARS
Dr. Chleborad emphasizes to never leave children -- or the elderly and pets -- in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are rolled down and it's in the shade.
"In just a few minutes, the temperature can reach 120 degrees in a parked car," Chleborad said.
WATER SAFETY STEPS
Lauren Farrah, executive director for Safe Kids Oklahoma Coalition (safekidsok.org), said a proper life jacket is important whether out on the open water this summer, or even around the swimming pool.
Life jackets should be U.S. Coast Guard approved, and need to be selected to match the proper weight of the wearer and for proper fit, Farrah said.
She said that state law requires all occupants of a boat to at least have access to a flotation device.
"On the open water, there is a special risk of drowning when the kids are swimming," she said. "They probably won't be screaming for help, and can't be heard if they are. They'll go down without anyone seeing or hearing them."
She said that is why it is important for adults to be vigilant and always keep an eye on children when around water, even at the pool.
"When there are a lot of people around the pool, they all think someone else is watching," Farrah said.
She said someone needs to serve as the "designated water watcher" at the pool, to account for each of the kids at all times.
"And kids just need to learn how to swim." Farrah said, which will help them avoid problems in the water.
Additionally, she suggested that Barriers need to be deployed around pools to hinder access, such as fencing. She also suggested installing a chime on a door that leads to your pool, so you can hear when your child might be slipping out of the house and heading toward the pool unattended.
Farrah said these water safety tips should not be taken lightly. "We've had several pool drownings already this season," she said.
Get more kids' safety tips by going to safekidsok.org, she said.
©2012 The Woodward News (Woodward, Okla.)
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