As a child, summer was my favorite time of year. I could play outside all
day, eat ice cream till I burst and enjoy the feel of warm grass beneath
my toes. I didn’t have a care in the world. This summer, thousands
of children will spend the majority of their day playing outside. As a
parent or caregiver, you want to make sure you are keeping kids safe while
letting them enjoy this wonderful time in their childhood. Here are a
few summertime dangers to be mindful of as we ease into this time of year.
One significant danger in the summer for children is dehydration and heat
illness. Children are often dehydrated before symptoms begin, so prevention
is key. Children should drink water 30 minutes before outdoor activity
begins, and parents or caregivers should encourage fluid breaks every
15 to 20 minutes during play and outdoor activities. Do not wait for the
child to say they are thirsty. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends
five ounces of fluid for an 88-pound child and 9 ounces for a 132-pound
child every 20 minutes during play. It is also crucial to drink plenty
of fluids after play.
Watch out for possible signs of dehydration, including dizziness, dry/sticky
mouth, extreme fatigue, headache, irritability and muscle cramping. Dehydration
is a precursor to a more serious illness, heat exhaustion. Signs of heat
exhaustion include cool, moist, and/or pale skin, cramps, dark colored
urine, excessive sweating, faintness or dizziness and a rapid, weak heartbeat.
These symptoms are extremely dangerous and require immediate attention.
If left unattended, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which is
life threatening. If you suspect any of the above symptoms, hydration
is required immediately. Make every effort to cool the child by moving
he or she to a shady place and use cold water to cool them down. Remove
any equipment and excess clothing, and have the child drink cold water
or a sports drink. If the child is unable to drink, seek medical attention
immediately. Kids are not usually aware that they need to drink plenty
of fluids before, during and after exercise and outdoor activities, which
means adults need to encourage hydration and fluid breaks to prevent heat illness.
Another summertime danger we don’t always think about is a bug bite.
Most of the time, bug bites are nothing more than a nuisance, although
some can cause severe allergic reaction, sickness and even death. If you
are taking care of a child, know their history with bites and stings.
If they have a history of severe allergic reactions, make sure they have
their doctor prescribed EPI-PEN with them while they are under your supervision.
If a child has been bitten or stung and is wheezing, having difficulty
breathing, tightness in the chest or throat, swelling of the lips, tongue
or face, dizziness or fainting, nausea or vomiting, seek medical attention
right away, as these could be signs of a serious or life threatening allergic reaction.
Summertime is a favorite among all children. Let’s do our best to
give them a smart, safe summer. For more information on SAFE KIDS, contact
Kayla Hefner at the Health First Center by calling 828/485-2300.