The Top Summer Dangers for Kids

Along with sun and fun, summer dangers for kids may lurk. Vacations, high temps, swimming, increased outdoor activity – all of this and more can be the cause of injury, accidents or illness.

Summer puts most of us into a more relaxed frame of mind and that’s when parents may let their guard down. But, with a little preparation and vigilance, you and your kids can avoid the pitfalls and enjoy all the magic that summer has to offer.

Here are five top things to look out for while your kids enjoy summer fun:

Dehydration

Kids can get dehydrated quickly. Children lose a higher percentage of water when they sweat compared to adults, writes pediatrician Dr. Stacy Leatherwood Cannon in a blog on the Henry Ford Health website.

The best guard against hydration is being prepared. Make sure everyone has access to water and bring healthy, kid-friendly drinks with you wherever you go. Dr. Leatherwood Cannon also suggests water-rich snacks such as 100% juice popsicles, watermelon or grapes. Avoid caffeinated beverages as they increase urination, which leads to further dehydration.

Remember, water alone may not be enough. “Make sure you include electrolytes in your rehydration plan. When kids get overheated and dehydrated, they’re not just losing water. They’re sweating out electrolytes like sodium, potassium and chloride,” Dr. Leatherwood Cannon explains.

She suggests electrolyte solutions like Smart Water and Gatorade.

Sunburn

 Playing outside in the sun is fun. Sunburn, not so much. Putting on sunscreen is important but it only works if you use it the right way. Make sure you use a water-resistant sunscreen of at least 30 SPF and apply sunblock 20 to 30 minutes before sun, Dr. Leatherwood Cannon writes. This allows enough time for it to soak into the skin. And don’t forget to reapply! Even if your sunscreen label says that it’s water-resistant, it will only last an hour.

Shades are cool! Have your child wear sunglasses with UV protection and protective, lightweight clothing.

Heat-related issues

 In an article on the American Academy of Pediatrics website, Dr. Rebecca Philipsborn points out that high temps can cause illnesses in children such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. “It’s great to see children enjoying nature and reaping the benefits of outdoor activities. As we encounter more intense weather events, including severe heat, there are some layers of protection that families can use to help their kids stay healthy.”

If you must go out in high heat, Dr. Philipsborn has some advice: “On hot days, make sure your child dresses appropriately, takes breaks, drinks plenty of water and takes time to get used to the temperature,” she says.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also suggests considering limiting your child’s time outdoors in excessive heat if they suffer from allergies or asthma. Heat can make these conditions worse.

Water safety

Besides enrolling your children in swim lessons by age 4, Henry Ford Health’s Dr. Leatherwood Cannon writes that swimming venues should be thoroughly vetted before letting kids take a dip. “What is the ratio of children to parental (or lifeguard) supervision? Is it a crowded, loud beach or pool where a child could slip below the surface and go unnoticed? A person who’s drowning can be quieter than people realize, so make sure time in the water is properly supervised.”

Going on a boat or watercraft? Life jackets are a must. Plus, make sure the life jacket is the right size for your child or they could slip out.

Bug bites

While bug bites may seem like a routine part of the summer season, they can present problems. For example, ticks can cause Lyme disease and mosquitoes can carry the Zika virus.

According to an article by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Some activities put you more at risk for bug bites than others: hiking, camping, working with animals and visiting farms and forested areas.” Wear protective clothing and a kid-safe insect repellent, applied after sunscreen, says the CDC.

Some kids may even have moderate or serious allergic reactions to bites. If your child has a minor bite, an over-the-counter lotion should help. But keep an eye on it. If you notice severe swelling, redness, hives or breathing problems, these could be signs of an allergic reaction. Get medical help immediately.

“Ultimately, awareness is the biggest factor in having a safe summer. If you’re at a barbecue, you’re more likely to stay relaxed and think everything’s OK when your kids run off to play. But that’s when problems are more likely to happen,” writes Dr. Leatherwood Cannon on Henry Ford Health’s blog.

“Always know where your kids are going, what kind of environment they’ll be in, who they’ll be with and teach them what to do should something go wrong.”

For more tips on keeping your kids healthy, visit henryford.com.

Jenny Kales
Jenny Kales
Content editor Jenny Kales has been in the business of writing for more than 20 years. A natural storyteller, she loves helping Metro Parent clients tell their stories in a way that resonates with their audiences.

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