Keeping Teens Safe during Summer II
As the beautiful summer weather begins and parents think of outdoor activities for their children it is important children and teens are protected to decrease the likelihood of an unfortunate or unforeseen accident. Your pediatrician and midlevel provider also welcome families doing outdoor activities since it means families can exercise together without even thinking about it. We especially love it when parents keep their teens safe whilst enjoying the summer with them.
Swimming is an activity enjoyed by the whole family and also gives everyone a great workout. One must realize the dangers associated with swimming and teach teens and young children to protect themselves and others. Some parents think swimming is dangerous and choose not to teach their children to swim. This is a very short-sighted approach as it will be very hard to control your kids’ environment as they grow older. Children are invited to pool parties and teens love to go swimming with their friends. As you can imagine, the consequences can be dire if your child does not know how to swim and finds themselves in the lake or pool. Teaching kids to swim helps prevent unnecessary accidents. Children no matter how well they swim, should never be allowed to swim without supervision. It is too dangerous and they could panic if there is a near drowning accident. They should of course be taught to call 911 in the event there is any unforeseen accident at the pool.
Keeping teens safe at the pool also involves the use of sunscreen. Sunburn and the risk of development of skin cancer is very preventable with sunscreen. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 15 to 50. When swimming or exercising, sunscreen needs to be reapplied regularly. If you know your child burns easily avoid them being in direct sunlight. Wearing a wide brimmed hat and loose cotton clothing whigh covers the skin can also prevent unnecessary sun exposure and the risk of sunburn. It really doesn’t matter what your skin pigmentation is, every child should be encouraged to use sunscreen to prevent sunburn.
Bike riding is another activity enjoyed by families and also gives great exercise. It is so important for everyone to wear helmets, no matter their age, to prevent the risk of head injury in the event of an accident. Somehow teens think it is not cool to wear helmets. Parents must be firm and insist on hElmer’s. A significant head injury will not only significantly impact your child but your entire family. Wearing a bicycle helmet can prevent unnecessary heartache and regret. Be sure to buy a helmet approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). You must make sure it fits well and is comfortable for your child. Also your children are more likely to wear it if they get to choose the specific one they want. If teens are out riding at night, they should also wear reflective clothing or armbands so they are easily seen by drivers on the road. Unfortunately, some parents have their children ride dirt bikes, which can lead to serious accidents in teens. Dirt bike riding can lead to knee injuries, broken bones, lung damage and the list goes on. In my opinion, dirt bike riding is too dangerous a sport for young kids or teens to participate in.
3. Insect bites
It is amazing how many children we see in clinic because of infected insect bites or local reactions to insect bites. Unfortunately, we still have to share space with those dreaded insects. Here too, an ounce of prevention goes a long way towards preventing days of misery. It is important to use a good insect repellant for outdoor activities. This is usually one that contains 10 to 35 % DEET. The 10 % concentration can be used for younger children and babies. Insect bites are common around dusk and dawn so be sure to protect your children if they go walking or playing around that time. Wearing light colored clothing and long sleeved pants and tops can also be protective.
Once bitten, prevent kids from scratching. Apply a cool compress. Taking an Over the Counter (OTC) anti-histamine like Benadryl or Zyrtec can also help prevent the local swelling that can occur in some people. This is very frightening once it happens but an antihistamine is very effective in treating this as well. Avoid scratching as this can lead to a superinfection. Applying OTC, hydrocortisone cream or Calamine Lotion can also help with this.
As the summer proceeds, have fun with your teens and younger children, but do take the necessary steps to keep them safe. Teach your teens and younger children about water safety and the importance of younger children never ever swimming without adult supervision. Older teens should be taught to call for help in the event of drowning or near drowning. Teach your children to always use sunscreen, to protect themselves from skin burn and significant skin damage. Encourage them to also use insect repellants before outdoor activities. Kids of all ages must also be taught to wear protective gear like bicycle helmets and reflective clothing, to prevent unnecessary injury.
Have fun during summer and make beautiful and lasting memories and remember to equip your teens and younger children with the requisite knowledge they need to keep them safe.