BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. - As summer approaches, parents must take all the necessary safety precautions to ensure their child’s wellbeing. Hot weather provides opportunities for children to enjoy the outdoors; however, they may fall, crash, slip, and tumble during summertime fun activities.  

“Parents must remember that summer should be a time of enjoyment for their children,” Mary-Ann Kroll, M.D., pediatrician at Pediatric Associates in Bridgeport, said. “While they need to let their kids play outdoors, parents must at the same time be careful to take a common-sense approach with safety.”

Dr. Kroll said that summer is a time where we face several safety hazards. Parents will need to know what steps they can take to prevent an emergency. It is important to be on the lookout for risks ranging from water safety to how to deal with potentially deadly insects.

SWIMMING
"Swimming and other water activities are excellent ways for your child to get the physical activity and health benefits needed,” Kroll said. “However, drownings are the leading cause of injury or deaths for children between the ages of one to four years of age in the United States.”  

There are some simple preventive measures that parents can take. If parents can swim, they should also teach their children to do so. Both the YMCA and Red Cross provide swimming lessons in most areas.

If for some reason you are unable to ensure your child receives swimming lessons, make sure he or she wears some sort of flotation device when in or around water.

“The average adult has trouble sustaining his or her breath for 30 seconds.That average is even lower for young children,” Kroll said. “Taking your eye off your child for just a second around a body of water could lead to the unthinkable. When taking your children around water, please, take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety.”

Kroll also wants to help prevent you and your family from getting a recreational water illness.

“This is an illness caused by germs and chemicals found in the water in which we swim,” she said. “I recommend that you take frequent bathroom breaks and check diapers hourly, as to avoid an accident in water. This tip will help to keep germs out.”

HEAT AND SUN
Kroll said that heat and sun can be very dangerous to children and even adults. Children and adults exposed to too much sun can face serious heat exhaustion and sunburns.The first steps in prevention are staying well hydrated and wearing light, loose-fitted clothing. A sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher should be applied periodically throughout the day.

TICKS AND MOSQUITOS
“Ticks and mosquitos are on the rise each year,” Kroll said. “ We must take preventive measures to stop the spread of the Zika virus, West Nile virus, and Lyme disease.”

Parents should keep their lawn cut short, and reduce the time their children spend near wooded locations These are areas where ticks and mosquitos often hide. Spraying down with insect repellent or putting on long articles of clothing before venturing outdoors will greatly reduce the number of bug bites received by both ticks and mosquitos.

PLAYGROUNDS AND RECREATION
“Playgrounds and recreational activities are responsible for more than 200,000 emergency department (ED) visits annually by children 14 and younger,” Kroll said. “Parents need to analyze each playground for faulty structures before allowing their children to play on them.”

It is important to ensure that a playground is well maintained and that each part is working as it should. Children must always wear the proper equipment before ever participating in any sports or recreational activity.

POISON IVY
“Your children need to be aware of the plant-related dangers around them when playing outdoors,” Kroll said. “In fact, nearly 85 percent of people are allergic to poison ivy, and it affects as many as 50 million Americans each year.”

Poison ivy can be found in every state in the United States except for Hawaii, Alaska, and some deserts in Nevada.

The best way parents can keep their children from having to deal with this plant is by teaching them what the plant looks like. If you are not an outdoorsmen, you can simply search online at Redcross.org to find images of poison ivy, as well as where it is most likely found.

You will also find how to treat the infected area if you believe you have touched poison ivy. You must first wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. Next, you will want to wash any clothing or equipment that may have rubbed against the plant that day.

“Accidents will happen, but by being aware and educated about any potential risk, you can reduce your child’s chance of being affected,” Kroll said.

If you have further questions concerning these summertime safety tips or other medical questions concerning your child, call Dr. Mary-Ann Kroll at 304-842-5777.

For more information: Matt Chisler, Director of Public Relations at United Hospital Center, 681-342-1611