Author: Dr. Vicky Leff, CHKD's General Booth Pediatrics
It is summer and your children want to be outside, at the beach, or at the pool. While drowning is a major concern, there are worries about other injuries as well, including sunburn and jelly fish stings. What's important is being prepared.
First, one must realize that not all bodies of water are the same. Swimming in a lake or pool is not like swimming in the ocean. With the ocean, parents must be aware of the waves and riptides than can quickly pull a child under or away. Watching children from a distance is not enough. In nearly 9 out of 10 drowning-related deaths, a caregiver claimed to be supervising the child.
With children, it's best to use the "arm's length rule" when they are in or near the water. With small children it's best to closely supervise their play even at water's edge.
Make certain older children are strong swimmers before letting them go into deeper water. Explore the water yourself looking for drop-offs. If you plan to spend a lot of time around water, learn CPR and start swimming lessons for your children early. But also be aware, there are no swimming lessons that will drown-proof your child. You still must be vigilant.
Jellyfish pose another extremely common hazard in the ocean or the bay. If your child gets a jellyfish sting, do not wash it with fresh water. The fresh water will release more venom. If you have a credit card or even a sea shell, try to scrape the surface. If you can, try to find baking soda (or bring some with you) to decrease the pain.
If you have hydrocortisone cream, use that. You can use ice as well, but be aware that the fresh water from melting ice can make things worse.
It's always important to check the weather forecasts, riptide warnings and surf advisories and UV forecast. The most common injury a child suffers at the beach is a severe sunburn. Make sunscreen a must whenever your child is outdoors this summer. Use hats and sunglasses for additional protection.
And keep them hydrated and energized with frequent water and snack breaks. Watch for signs of heat-related illness such as dizziness, red or flushed face, lightheadedness and dehydration
Lightning also poses a risk. Clear the beach if you hear thunder 30 seconds after seeing lightning. Follow the 30/30 rule - if there is less than 30 seconds between lightning and thunder, wait 30 minutes after storm to return to beach
If caught in storm, avoid tall objects. Lie down or crouch until it passes.
You can make your summer at the beach or a lake the highlight of your children's lives by following these simple safety tips.
Whether taking a plane, train or automobile, traveling with children over the holidays can be nerve-wracking. You have to worry about sunburns, bee stings, and water safety, but the travel itself may be the most dangerous part of the trip. Car accidents remain the leading cause of death for children under 12 years of age. In many cases, those deaths are preventable by the proper use of seat belts and car seats.
Among the most significant changes over the years is the recommendation that children remain in rear-facing car seats as long as possible. With a front-facing car seat, a child is thrown forward if you run into something, making the straps the only form of restraint. With rear-facing car seats, the child's entire back and delicate neck are protected by the seat.
But even the most expensive car seats offer little or no protection if they are improperly installed. Once you get a car seat, make sure you follow the instructions to the letter.
Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, you should keep him or her in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. That means that the seat belt lies across the upper thighs, not the stomach, and that the shoulder harness crosses the chest, not the neck. Children are usually 4 feet 9 inches tall before they outgrow their booster seats.
Although long trips often involve a lot of driving, most car accidents occur within five miles of the home at speeds under 25 miles an hour, so it's important to have all members of your family buckled up at all times.
New laws in Virginia encourage the use of car seats and seat belts by requiring that every child 8 and under be secured in a child safety or booster seat in a moving vehicle. It also mandates that everyone in the car use seat belts.
While the law is important, what matters most is your example. Show your kids how it's done. Always buckle up every time - before the engine starts.
Source: Tidewater Parent Magazine