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May 4, 2020

Top 5 Summer Hazards and Tips to Stay Safe

By Dr. Joe Perno

Summertime means more time outdoors, in the sun and around water. While it’s fun time for families, experts at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital have a warning on the top 5 summer safety hazards that they see in the emergency rooms during the summer. Learn more about some of these dangers and ways you can prevent these accidents during outdoor adventures, plus tips for keep your family safe.

Drownings

Florida leads the nation in the number of child drownings and many of them happen at home. Safe Kids Florida Suncoast recommends the follow ways to prevent these injuries.

  • Identify Bodies of Water and Have a Clear View: Adults should have a clear view of the pool. Inflatable pools, a neighbor’s pool, lakes, canals or creeks may pose additional dangers.
  • Create barriers and use pool safety devices:
    • Childproof doors and turn on alarms, including pet doors which kids can easily sneak through.
    • Pools should be surrounded by a fence with self-closing, self-latching gates.
    • Keep outdoor furniture away from the fence, so children can’t easily climb over the fence.
    • Remove all toys and floating objects from the pool, so it is less tempting to a child.
  • Never leave a child alone near water: No matter how small the amount of water, do not leave children unattended, not even for a minute. Keep your toilet seat closed and locked.
  • Designate a water watcher:A water watcher is a responsible adult who agrees to watch the children in the water without distractions. To request a water watcher card, email achsafekids@jhmi.edu.
  • Know the basics of swim safety: It’s important to teach children the basics of swim safety. Make sure children only swim when an adult is around, learn how to tread water and float on their back.

Heat-related illness

Warm temperatures and outdoor activities could lead to dehydration and heat exhaustion or heat stroke. By the time you are feeling thirsty, you are already mildly dehydrated. Be sure your child is drinking plenty of water throughout the day, especially when in the sun. Children are encouraged to drink their age in 8-ounce glasses of water until they reach the age of 8. For example, kids eight and older should drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Signs of dehydration can include: Elevated heart rate, headache, muscle cramps, reduced sweating, dark urine, small amount of urine, clammy skin, chills and nausea and vomiting. Urine is a good indicator to ensure your child is getting enough water. Explain to kids that light yellow pee, like lemonade, is what their urine should look like.

Bike Accidents

According to the CDC, latest data shows there are more than 460,000 bicycle related injuries in the U.S. each year. Many experts say the first step to preventing serious bike injuries, is to wear a helmet and make sure it fits properly. It’s also important to have an appropriate bike for your child’s age and size. Don’t forget to use sidewalks, if possible, or ride on the right with traffic and always use hand signals, as well as respect traffic signals.

Sunburns

People with fair skin and moles are the most at risk for sunburns, as is anyone with a family history of skin cancer, but people with dark skin can still get burned. Try to avoid extended exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., even on cloudy days. When outside, make sure to have a hat, sunglasses, and of course, sunscreen for protection from sunburns. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going into the sun and reapply at least every two hours with SPF 30, at minimum. If your child has a sunburn with blisters, a fever or isn’t acting normal, seek medical attention immediately.

Bites and Stings

Bites usually cause a small red bump, but some kids get a localized reaction that can look like hives. Bees or wasps and fire ants are the major insects that can cause severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction that can cause difficulty breathing or swallowing. If that happens, call 911 and if you have epinephrine, use it! Otherwise a hydrocortisone cream, baking soda paste, antihistamines (diphenhydramine or Benadryl) or even ice cubes can help with minor bites or stings.


Dr. Perno is the vice president of medical affairs at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. He joined the hospital staff in 2003. Dr. Perno also maintains clinical time in the Emergency Department, where he started as an attending physician in 2003 and served as assistant medical director from 2005 through 2015. He has chaired the hospital’s Medicine Quality of Care Committee, and in 2009 he was named vice chairman of the Department of Pediatric Medicine. Dr. Perno also has been a key member of several system innovation and quality improvement efforts and served as chief of the medical staff in 2016. Dr. Perno earned his medical degree from St. George’s University in West Indies, Grenada. He completed a pediatric residency from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, New Jersey, followed by a fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine from Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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