Summer is the season of outdoor family fun, but all that fun comes with tons of hazards for your children. From broken bones to bug bites, kids of all ages are at risk for summertime injuries.
In fact, Children’s Hospital of Michigan explains that kids tend to end up in the emergency room during the summer months more than any other time of the year.
So, what can parents do to help their little ones if they get hurt this summer? Dr. Sanford J. Vieder, the medical director at Lakes Urgent Care in West Bloomfield, offers basic first aid tips to help you handle eight common summertime injuries.
When it comes to sunburns or a burn from a campfire, Vieder says it’s important to remember this: Don’t put butter or any ointment onto a burn.
“Butter had the ability to grow bacteria (and) has no beneficial affects on the burn,” he says.
Instead, he recommends simply cooling the skin with water. Ice cubes can cause burns due to their cold temperature, but will work if they are not placed directly on the skin.
“If you have a burn and it’s red and painful, (but) there are no blisters, you can probably handle it by cooling it,” Vieder says. “If there’s blistering you should probably have someone take a look at it.”
For sunburn, aloe will help ease the pain.
There’s no wrath like that of an angry bee. If you or your child find yourselves at the wrong end of the stinger, do not squeeze it out.
“By squeezing it, you can make the venom distribute more into the subcutaneous tissue,” he explains. Simply put, it will distribute under the skin.
“Put some ice on it. Cold causes the restriction of blood vessels in the skin, so when you can apply ice or cold water to that immediate area, you shut down the blood supply. That would help to slow the spread of the venom.”
Once the venom is slowed, the immune system will step in and attack the venom left in the system. However, if you or your child has experienced a violent reaction to a bee sting, Vieder advises to get a prescription for an EpiPen – and keep multiple wherever you might run into a bee.
Did a softball give your kid a shiner? Don’t be so hasty to grab the raw steak. Using raw meat to treat a black eye puts the patient at risk for a bacterial infection with no beneficial affects. Instead, try cool water.
“Cooling an area wherever there is a bruise will reduce swelling,” Vieder says.
“The best immediate action (for an injured ankle) is to leave the shoe on, lace it up as high as you can and lace it up as tight as you can,” Vieder says.
The key to treating something like a sprained ankle or other extremity is to keep the swelling down through compression. Once the injured area is wrapped or compressed, apply ice and immobilize it.
“Make sure that you go to an urgent care or the emergency room to get an X-ray,” he says. “A lot of people think if you can put weight on it or move a finger then it’s not broken, (and) that’s not true.”
Have you ever heard that tilting the head back stops a nosebleed? Well, all it actually does is make it worse.
“The problem with tilting your head back is blood tends to drain backwards, which would cause you to choke, which would cause you to wretch and increase the blood flow,” Vieder says.
The best way to handle a nose bleed is to blow your nose first – to clear out whatever you can. Then, sit in the upright position, Vieder suggests, and pinch the lower nose for 10 minutes without letting go.
If the bleeding hasn’t stopped after ten minutes of pinching, seek medical attention.
Rashes caused by plants, such as poison ivy or poison oak, are a result of oil or resin on the plant. Some people have a strong reaction and some people don’t, Vieder explains. The resin can spread to other areas of the body through touch until the resin is washed off.
“If you believe that you have been exposed, wash the area as soon as you can,” Vieder says. “Once it’s washed, it cannot be spread.”
Water, Gatorade or even pop will work to wash the resin from the skin and deactivate it. Blot the area dry after washing.
“The person may still react to it, but at least you will minimize it,” he says.
Caladryl lotion or Aveeno Oatmeal Bath will help soothe the skin once you get home.
Not much puts a damper on a summertime fishing trip like a fishhook through the skin. Fishhooks often have a barb on the end that make it difficult to be pulled, which is why they work so well for fishing.
If the barb is not showing, a trip to the emergency room to have it removed is necessary. If the barb is exposed, Vieder recommends using a pair of needle-nose pliers to cut off the barb, gently pull it out of the skin and clean it.
“Good ol’ soap and water is all you need,” he says. “(Then) keep an eye on it for infection.”
Peroxide can be used once to cleanse the wound, but multiple uses can actually slow the healing process.
Other things to remember
One of the most common mistakes a parent can make is suspecting a problem but not seeking medical attention, Vieder explains.
“It is very easy at times to say ‘you’re ok’ and blow something off,” he says.
Always trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, seek out an urgent care that has a good reputation and is certified by the Urgent Care Association of America, but know when to seek out emergency medical attention, too. In the sponsored section of the June 2015 issue of Metro Parent, Children’s Hospital of Michigan takes us inside their emergency department, for example.
This article was originally reported in July 2014 and is updated regularly.