Summer and the beautiful weather sends everyone outside to enjoy. ¬†Simple precautions and awareness will keep your summer filled with FUN!
Keep these risks in mind:
- Overheating: ¬†Heat cramps (muscle spasms that result from low sodium levels due to sweating), heat exhaustion (a weakness or tiredness that results from dehydration) and heat stroke (occurs when the body’s ability to regulate its own temperature breaks down) can all occur in people who do not take the proper precautions.¬†While the first two conditions can be dangerous, heat stroke is the most likely to be life threatening. Victims of heat stroke should be cooled down as rapidly as possible and medical help summoned immediately. The CDC gives advice on the treatment of all three conditions here.
- Water: The obvious drowning dangers aside, you can contract illnesses from swimming in public pools, at the beach or in lakes/streams/rivers. While chlorine kills off most bacteria in public pools and splash pads, that’s not always the case at non-chlorinated locations. Check local and county websites, ask the lifeguards and watch the news for reports of harmful bacteria in public waters. See those flags posted at the lifeguard station? ¬†If you don’t know what they mean, ask!
- Drowning: ¬†Do you know what drowning looks like? ¬†It doesn’t look anything at all like what you see in the movies. 50%¬†of child drownings happen¬†within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. 10% of adults¬†will actually watch a child drown because drowning does NOT look like drowning. Drowning is a “silent killer” – children playing in the water make noise.¬†When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.¬†Take a look at what drowning could look like here.
- Dry/Secondary Drowning:¬†With dry drowning, water never reaches the lungs. Instead, breathing in water causes your child’s vocal chords to spasm and close up after he’s already left the pool, ocean, or lake. That shuts off his airways, making it hard to breathe.¬†Secondary drowning happens a little bit differently. Your child’s airways open up, letting water into his lungs where it builds up, causing a condition called pulmonary edema. The end result is the same: trouble breathing.¬†Symptoms of dry drowning usually happen right after any incident in the water. Secondary drowning generally starts later, within 1-24 hours of the incident.
- Burns: Be careful when letting children play on playground equipment. ¬†Go do a heat test before they climb on to ensure that the surface is not too hot for tender skin. While most playgrounds are now covered in plastic (which can still be too hot for a toddler’s skin), sometimes you will find metal that has been soaking up the sun and can reach temperatures that exceed 200 degrees.
- Weather: Flash floods, lightning strikes, hurricanes and tornadoes are all dangers that can be present during the summer months. Be sure to check your local weather for any watches or warnings before heading outside for a long period of time. Keep an ear tuned to the skies. If you hear thunder, lightning is not far behind and the risks to you and your family while in the water are significantly increased.
- Mold: ¬†Heat and humidity are a perfect combination to encourage the growth of mold (yuck!). Mold growth has been attributed to¬†eye, nose and throat irritation, coughing, shortness of breath or other allergic reactions, as well as trigger asthma symptoms and cause respiratory infections. The Center for Disease Control gives advice on how to prevent or clean up mold here.
- Poison: ¬†We experienced poison oak/ivy/sumac this year for the first time…on my 4 year old…on her face. What we thought was possible a reaction to a bug bite quickly became an emergency when her face swelled up. Poison oak/ivy/sumac was quickly diagnosed and after about a week on steroids and other antihistimines and anti-inflammatories, my daughter’s face started to get back to normal. Honestly, it was closer to 3 weeks before all of the swelling went down. And in the midst of all of that, my husband wound up with a patch of it on his arm, likely transferred from my daughter.
We have now made it a point to remind our kids when they go outside to be careful of what they are playing in and touching and that if they think they may have come into contact with poison oak/ivy/sumac, to immediately come inside and wash their hands with soap and change their clothes.
Don’t forget!¬†Other poisonous plants will be making their appearance during the summer. Consult with local county agricultural resources before any outdoor play in a new area.
- Venom: Along with poison, there’s venom. Venomous snakes and spiders are going to be more active so be sure to know what to look for and what to avoid! ¬†Bees, wasps, hornets, yellow flies, horse flies are all also going to be out enforce and while not necessarily “venomous” they can pack a whallop of a punch with a sting or bite and allergic reactions can and will happen…from mild to extreme.
- Hot cars!¬† The awareness campaign for hot cars and children/animals is in full force. ¬†If for some reason you are not aware, it is DEADLY (and in many states, illegal) to leave a child or animal in a car unattended.
- DIY Cooler A/C: ¬†If your air conditioner just isn’t cutting it or you need emergency cooling for a short time, consider making this DIY AC.