Summer Health & Safety With Dr. Bridget Boyd of Loyola Health Systems! by Donna John
Summer is fun, but it’s also loaded with potential health and safety hazards for your family. From sun and water to injury and dehydration, there’s lots you should know to keep your kids safe. Dr. Bridget Boyd, a physician (and mom!) with Loyola University Health System, joined us recently to share her top tips for making summer as safe and healthy as possible – and it was one of the best chats yet!
Q: What are most important things parents need to know about summer safety?
A.“Have fun and be active, but remember to stay safe! Supervision is extremely important. No kid or adolescent is old enough not to need some supervision. That doesn’t mean hover every minute, but have check-in times and make sure you know where your kids are.”
“Because so many people are at the pool/beach, it is so important to be safe. Don’t take your eyes off the kids.” – Jillian Darlington (@MomCoApp)
“Especially toddlers. They get into all sorts of trouble, make trouble and are epitomes of trouble.” – Tiffany C. (@sweetmatcha)
Q: Where do most summer injuries happen?
A: Most injuries in children are accidental. Falls are among the more common injuries. Falls can range from a scraped or bruised knee to more serious falls from an open window. Some injuries can be prevented or minimized by using protective safety equipment. Good examples of safety equipment include helmets, wrist guards, elbow pads and knee pads. Window guards are available to protect children from falling from windows.
“My son is a redhead. He never goes outside without sunscreen or a hat. So important!” – @MomCoApp
“Super important! I always put sunscreen on if we’re going to be out for more than a few minutes!” – @pinkpuff20
Q: How often should you apply sunscreen?
A: Put sunscreen on 20 minutes before heading out and again every two hours. If swimming or sweating, you will need to apply more often even it is says it’s water- and sweat-proof.
“I remember getting burned as a young teen at the beach. So terrible.” – @pinkpuff20
Q: What other precautions should parents take when their kids are in the sun?
A: Avoid peak sun hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and try to stay in the shade when possible. Sunglasses and wide-brim hats help protect the eyes and face.
“Try to go in the shade and wear hats.” – @MomCoApp
“Sunhats! They’re cute and very helpful.” – @pinkpuff20
“Sunhats are a blessing for my girls!!” – (@peabody_andrea)
Q: What should parents encourage kids to do when out playing in the heat?
A: Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of the heat when at all possible. Be sure that children stay hydrated. Babies over 6 months old can safely drink water. But babies have immature kidneys and can’t tolerate large amounts of water. Also, young babies need a lot of calories to grow and this is best achieved through breast milk or formula. Electrolyte drinks are often full of sugar and empty calories. They’re usually not necessary unless children have engaged in very vigorous activity for more than one hour.
“Drink water!!” – Toni Bila (@rychepet)
“Yes!! Water and bananas are better!” – Deborah Lowther (@Deb_Lowther)
Q: What are some signs that kids might be dehydrated?
A: Mild dehydration is characterized by slightly decreased urine output. Young children may not feel an increased thirst sensation to the same extent as adults.
“Whenever something doesn’t just look or feel OK. You know your child best!!” – (@peabody_andrea)
“Once, my daughter was so dehydrated she couldn’t sit up. Scary trip to the hospital. Follow your instincts.” – Lauren Harris-Pincus, RD (@LaurenPincusRD)
Q: When should you take kids to the emergency room?
A: Mild dehydration can almost always be corrected by drinking fluids at home. Water or oral electrolyte solutions, such as Pedialyte, work very well. Watch for urine output and the child’s activity level to improve. If symptoms worsen or if child can’t tolerate fluids by mouth, he or she may need to be evaluated in emergency room.
“I always take Pedialyte powder with us when we travel in my on-the-go first aid kit.” – @FreeLikeBirdie
“We run long distances (20 km) so we make our own with water, salt, sugar and lemon extract.” – @Deb_Lowther
Q: How old should children be when they can swim alone?
A: The best answer is never. No one should swim alone! Children under age 5 need to be supervised by an adult within arm’s length. Older children need to be supervised as well, but the adult can be slightly farther away. Preferably the supervisor should know how to swim and be trained in CPR.
“I made sure to become CPR certified when I was 18 and have been since!! I always have an emergency bag in my car!!” – (@peabody_andrea)
“I always keep an eye on my 9-year-old when he’s in the water.” – @MargosEntries
“Water safety can’t be overrated. I’ve had my girls in the water since infants. I still don’t let them swim alone.” – Holly Budde (@tweenspot)
“You need to be so careful around water with kids. Can’t turn away for a second!!” – @LaurenPincusRD
“My son was a near-drowning victim when he was 5. A nightmare!” – Mindy Hudon (@MindyHudon)
Q: Kids hate bike helmets. Why should they wear them?
A: Helmets can be the difference between life and death. They protect from serious brain injury.
“NO EXCEPTIONS. Always wear a helmet, just like putting on your seatbelt.” – @rychepet
“My kiddos are the helmet police. They go around and report to me all the kids without helmets.” – @sweetmatcha
“I need to invest in a helmet for myself. Eeekkkk!” – @MargosEntries
Q: Is bug spray safe?
A: Yes, but it is not recommended for use on babies younger than 2 years old. Use 10 to 30 percent DEET insect repellent, depending on how long you will be exposed to insects. A 10-percent DEET insect repellent is effective and lasts for about two hours and 30 percent for about five hours. Unlike sunscreen, you don’t reapply bug spray. I recommend a bath/shower at night to wash off sprays.
“Candles are good for home, but if watching fireworks, etc., bracelets are great.” – @LaurenPincusRD
“I bought citronella bracelets for evenings outside. So far, no bites.” – Ian Gertler (@IanGertler)
Q: When should you be concerned about a bug bite?
A: Most bug bites are relatively harmless but irritating due to itching. Sometimes kids will scratch so much that they cause their skin to become infected. Antibiotic ointment or oral antibiotics might be required and the child should see a doctor. Also, any ring-shaped bite should be evaluated by a doctor to rule out Lyme disease.