With the arrival of sunny days and endless opportunities for outdoor adventures, summer presents a magical time for kids and families. From splashing in pools to exploring nature's wonders, their curious spirits thrive in the warm embrace of the season. However, as parents and caregivers, it is our responsibility to ensure their well-being and to help protect them from the potential hazards that can arise during this time of year.
We, rightfully, hear a lot about hot car deaths/injuries, water safety, and drownings in the summertime, but I can tell you as a nurse, hospitals fill up quickly from an abundance of different injuries this time of year. I want to share with you a few common, yet not as well covered, injuries in kiddos that increase in the summer and what to do to decrease severity or prevent them:
1. Falls from open windows: It’s not something we often think about, but babies and kids can sometimes climb really well and reach things we didn’t realize they can, to include open windows. Moving furniture away from windows and investing in window locks (that can be placed so windows cannot open past a certain amount) or window guards (that allow you to open the windows more while providing a barrier) can help keep your Little Love away from open windows.
2. Phytophotodermatitis: This happens when certain foods (especially citrus, celery, parsley, parsnips) get on a person’s skin and react with UV light and can cause a rash or blistering. So if your kiddo has been eating or drinking something with these foods in them, ensure they don’t do so in the sun and wash hands, face, & any other skin that came in contact with the food with soap and water. It’s always a good idea to see your healthcare provider if there is a rash or blistering to determine the cause and get proper care.
3. Dehydration: Kids are especially sensitive to the heat and heat related injuries, and keeping well hydrated is an important step to help prevent some of these. If your kiddo is resistant to drinking plain water you could try: adding fruit or flavoring, fun shaped or flavored ice, or giving them foods that have a higher water content like watermelons or popsicles. If you suspect your child to be dehydrated, it’s always best to contact a healthcare professional to evaluate their specific symptoms.
**Some signs of dehydration in kids: feeling thirsty/light headed, dry mouth, tiredness, less urine than usual, darker yellow or strong smelling urine, no tears when they cry**
4. Sunburns: Even slight sunburns can cause a lot of discomfort, but sunburns can also get pretty bad. Putting sunscreen on kiddos can be quite the chore, but it is a vital step in having safe fun in the sun. There have been a lot of “parenting hacks” in recent years about how to more easily apply sunscreen, but dressing kids in lightweight, light colored clothing that provides more coverage so there is less exposed skin that needs sunscreen is a big help. Also, avoiding being in the sun during the strongest rays of the day helps a lot (so try to go out before 10am and after 4pm).
**Let’s talk sunscreen: Remembering to reapply the sunscreen every 2 hours, or more often if going in the water, and waiting the appropriate amount of time after applying the sunscreen (as indicated on your product) before entering the water are key. Picking out a sunscreen is also important, so you want to look for ones that are at least 30SPF, is water resistant, and says “broad spectrum” to cover against UVA and UVB.**
Beyond these four specific injuries, there is always an increase in playground, trampoline, water, and general injuries. Though we cannot prevent every injury, being vigilant and prepared can help us decrease the prevalence and severity of injuries and increase our summer fun! If you ever have a concern about your child, always seek advice from a licensed healthcare profession; it's better to be seen and intervene early than after something has progressed.
**This is not medical advice**