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Healthy Kids: Preparing for summer emergencies

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This time of year, children are more active outside, and doctors often see the results of summer fun gone wrong—from cuts and burns to broken bones. A little precaution and planning now can help your family prepare for an emergency.

Play safe around water

Beating the summer heat by cooling off in the water can be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, water also poses potential danger.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that parents never leave children alone in or near water, even for a moment; close supervision by a responsible adult is the best way to prevent drowning. Follow these additional tips:

• Less experienced swimmers and children under age 5 in or around water should have an adult – preferably one who knows how to swim and perform CPR – within arm's length, providing "touch supervision."

• Never have children swim alone. Even good swimmers need buddies!

• Because drowning can be quick and quiet, designate a "water watcher" when you are in, on or around water. The water watcher should pay constant attention, and be undistracted—not involved in any other activity such as reading or on the phone—even if lifeguards are present.

• Always wear a life jacket when boating, jet skiing, water skiing, rafting or fishing. Young children should also wear life jackets in the pool.

“Water wings are not adequate flotation for a young infant,” says Dr. Pilar Bradshaw, with Eugene Pediatric Associates. “Even though floaties are cute, they will not keep your baby from drowning.”

Don’t play with fire

During the summer months, gathering around a fire pit or campfire is common. However, fire pits pose an increased risk of burns to children, even after the fire is put out.

“What often happens is an adult puts the fire out and then forgets that it’s still hot as heck underneath,” says Dr. Bradshaw. “Then, toddlers either fall into the fire pit or they are digging around in the coals and get burned.”

Preparing for the unexpected

Families are advised to prepare for emergencies by creating a first aid kit with these essentials:

• An extra supply of medications your child takes or may need, like a rescue inhaler or EpiPen

• Ibuprofen and Tylenol

• Benadryl, which is a first-line treatment for insect bites, hives and other allergic reactions

• Hydrocortisone ointment

• Bandages

• Alcohol wipes

• A clean towel

• A small pair of scissors

• Tweezers, which come in handy when removing splinters, or even fishing hooks, from fingers.

Also, try this handy trick when leaving the house for a family outing:

“Freeze several water bottles and put them in a cooler,” Dr. Bradshaw says. “They can be used as an icepack to make an owie feel better, or you can let them thaw and have cold water to drink.”

Protecting against burns and bites

Remember to keep sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher on hand and re-apply often. Sunburns happen when you least expect them. Bug spray is also essential, especially when camping or heading out on a hike. The best protection comes from a repellant that contains 30 percent DEET.

Keep your family’s first aid kit and supplies in your car. That way, you’ll never have to remember to pack them.

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