Summer vacation has officially begun! Being at home and playing outside increases a child’s risk of getting hurt.
The best way to keep away insects, like ticks and mosquitoes, is to use insect repellent with DEET, which is safe if used properly. You shouldn’t use a preparation with more than 30% DEET, and you should never use it on babies less than 2 months old.
In general, ticks are usually harmless. The biggest disease threat in New England from tick bites is Lyme disease, carried by the black-legged dear tick. These are much smaller than dog ticks, so when you check your skin or your animals at the end of the day, look for something the size of a pinhead. If you do find a tick on your skin, use tweezers to remove the tick as close to the skin as possible. Try to pull gently but firmly. Ideally, you want to get the head out. Ticks usually have to be attached for more than 36 hours to transmit Lyme disease, so it’s important to remove it as quickly as possible. If the tick is engorged or you think it’s been attached for more than 36 hours, call your doctor. In some cases, they might give you antibiotics prophylactically. Otherwise, keep an eye on the area of the tick bite for a bulls-eye rash.
To avoid bees, wear light-colored clothing and avoid scented soaps and perfumes. Don’t leave food, drinks, and garbage outdoors uncovered. The good thing is, most bee stings are mild. You can use a fingernail or credit card to scrape out the stinger, and then wash with soap and water, and apply ice. Some people, however, can have severe reactions to bee stings. So, if someone develops throat swelling, shortness of breath, or dizziness, call 911.
Don’t forget, summer is also the time for mosquito bites, and a lot of them. Most can be treated with over the counter hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, or Benadryl if the area is really itchy. Mosquitoes can also carry disease like the West Nile Virus, so it’s important to minimize your exposure. This can be done by wearing long sleeves and pants or by using insect repellant in mosquito infested areas.
Sun damage is also a big concern this time of year. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 on both sunny and cloudy days. Make sure to reapply it after swimming, sweating, or after more than 2 hours in the sun. Of course you can wear protective clothing, such as rash guards for kids and wide-brimmed hats. If you find yourself with sunburn, ice packs or a bag of frozen veggies will work to relieve the pain, as well as taking ibuprofen. Aloe vera gel can also help with the sting. Widespread burns or severe burns, on the other hand, may require prescription medications, like steroids. For those, you will need to see a doctor.
Kids also partake in a lot of outdoor sports in summer, so certain safety equipment is needed. They should wear a well-fitting helmet when riding a bike, scooter or skateboard. Knee, elbow and wrist pads are good idea with scooters and skateboards, too. If your children play team sports, make sure they have the gear necessary to participate, which may include a mouth guard, face mask, and appropriate shoes.
Most importantly, children need to make sure they are always hydrated. Kids should drink twelve ounces of cool water or a sports drink before they head out to play. They should also take multiple water breaks during games. Get them a water bottle and make sure they refill it several times a day.
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