Summer health tips

It’s that time of year again – school’s out, no more homework and children have lots of free time to have fun. But during summer, with the constant outdoor play – including water activities and, of course, the hot weather – parents should be extra cautious about the hazards to their children’s safety. Here are some important safety tips that can help keep your children out of danger, and out of the emergency room.

• Never leave a child alone in the water or near the water, not even for a minute to answer the telephone. Children should swim only with adult supervision – even if they are good swimmers.
• Floatation devices and inflatable toys are just that – toys. They do not replace adult supervision in the swimming pool, a kiddie pool or a bathtub. It only takes seconds for a child to drown. If you have a backyard pool or live on the water, you need to have layers of protection to protect your children. These include: window or door locks/alarms, self-latching pool fencing; a Shepherd’s Crook or rescue ring should be available, have a telephone nearby and post emergency numbers and your address by that telephone.
• No diving into the water – always go in feet first to protect the head and neck.
• Select swimming sites that have lifeguards available. Never swim in unguarded lakes or canals because there may be many dangers lurking just beneath the surface of the water.
• Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Due to the time it may take for paramedics to arrive, CPR skills can make the difference between life and death.
• If you see someone in trouble in the water, “Throw Don’t Go.” Do not jump in any body of water to rescue someone because they may pull you under. Throw them a rope or rescue ring.

• Always wear a helmet when bike riding. It’s the law, and it can prevent head injuries and even death from a bicycle accident. Helmets and other safety gear should also be worn when skateboarding, skating, riding scooters and ATVs.
• Stay in control, be predictable and do not let more than one person ride a bike; no towing!
• Watch out for hazards, such as loose gravel, potholes, broken glass and stray dogs.
• Make sure your children wear bright colors when biking. Teach them that just because they see the driver, that does not mean the driver sees them.
• Observe all signs, traffic lights and street and sidewalk markings; ride single file; and use a steady front white light, a steady red rear light as well as reflectors when riding after dark.

• The sun is strongest between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., so try to keep your children out of direct sunlight during this time of day.
• Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to all children over six months old – and reapply it every two hours or more if swimming. Use sunscreen even when you’re in the shade.
• Children should drink plenty of fluids; they are susceptible to heat exhaustion and dehydration.

• Keep your children safe from bug bites by applying safe and effective insect repellents, such as those with DEET, citronella and soybean oil to the outside of clothing and exposed skin.
• Never apply the repellent directly to children’s hands and faces. Rub it into their necks and ears, staying away from their mouths and ears.
• Dusk and dawn are the worst times for bugs, so stay indoors during these times or wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.

For more information on summer safety, visit online at <>.

Cindy Magnole is the injury prevention coordinator at Jackson Memorial Hospital, a registered nurse in the pediatric emergency room at Holtz Children’s Hospital and chair of the Miami-Dade County Injury Prevention Coalition. Contact her by email at <>.

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