Keep summer safe

Summer is a time for backyard adventures, bike rides, camping trips, cookouts, sports games and so much more. Summers are meant for making memories, but sometimes, along the way mishaps happen. Nevertheless, during summer it is our goal to keep you out of the emergency room and participating in the events you and your family and friends enjoy.

Swimming is a great way to stay active during the summer while staying cool, but it is important to know proper water safety. Invest in swimming lessons for your child at a young age and use floaties or inner tubes for those too young to swim. Make sure to always supervise young children and visit swimming pools with lifeguards. If you plan to swim in a lake or pond this summer, don’t let the water get into your child’s mouth and be sure they are always wearing a life jacket.

Water safety is important. When on a boat, never exceed the maximum occupancy and make sure there are enough life jackets on board for all passengers. The size of the life jackets should also be correct for both children and adults.

An important, but often overlooked, asset to combating the summer heat is sunscreen. A sunburn is the most common burn during the summer. It is recommended to use a product that is SPF 30 or higher and water resistant to reap all of the benefits with sweaty skin. If you are unsure of what SPF level your child needs, ask your doctor. It may vary depending on your child’s skin tone and activity level. Be sure to apply sunscreen approximately every 30 to 60 minutes while outside.

The one infamous aspect of summer is the July Iowa heat and heat exhaustion: severe dehydration along with exposure to the stresses of high heat. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include headache, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath and nausea. If you notice any of these symptoms in you or your child, find a cool area to sit down. Provide or drink ice water and/or a sports drink to replenish fluids and sugars. To help bring body temperatures down, put a cold, wet cloth onto the skin and remove any additional clothing. If symptoms continue, contact your pediatrician, primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic as soon as possible.

We encourage dedication to heat prevention to avoid an emergency room visit due to heat stroke – the most serious heat related injury. Heat stroke is a very serious condition in which your temperature rises to about 104 degrees Fahrenheit in addition to the heat exhaustion symptoms. If heatstroke is left untreated, it can quickly lead to damage to your heart, brain, kidneys, and muscles. Heat stroke is an immediate medical emergency and would be treated as so.

Spending hot summer days outside will also likely lead to insect bites. You can help protect against mosquitos and lime disease by using an insect repellent and wearing and encouraging your child to wear protective clothing, such as lightweight long-sleeved shirts, pants, and closed-toe shoes.

Outdoor activities that you and your child might participate in like bike riding, skateboarding, scooters, playsets, climbing trees and hiking are great for the summer months, but also have high fall risk. You can prevent injuries from a fall by buying protective gear such as helmets, knee pads, antibiotic ointment, bandages, and the right shoes. However, if anyone is displaying head injury signs, have them assessed in an ER or urgent care clinic as soon as possible.

There may seem that there is an overwhelming amount to do in order to combat the risks of summer. The good news is, there are many helpful prevention tactics to stay safe during these summer months.

As you continue on with your summer, keep these ideas in mind to ensure that your summer can be safe and memorable.

Dr. Chris Hill is medical director of emergency services at UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center


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