The summer holidays are nearly here; time to spend some quality time with the kids and hopefully enjoy some lovely weather! However, it is important we are prepared in these summer months as it tends to be a peak time for accidental injuries to occur. We also have certain risks that the hot weather can bring, especially for babies and children. So here are some tips and advice on how to keep your child safe:
1. Remember your first aid kit!
Make sure it is well stocked and that everything is in date. Plan ahead if you are out and about in the summer. Make sure you have items with you, such as: sterile water for cleaning wounds or irrigating the eye from sand or dust; plenty of plasters and a couple of larger dressings; and an instant ice pack to reduce swelling for those bumps, bruises or stings.
2. Water safety
Drowning has been known to occur in as little as a few centimetres of water and this can also be silent. Recent statistics from the royal life saving society state that drowning is ‘the third highest cause of accidental death of children in the UK ’. An increase in drowning incidents also occurs in the summer months, therefore, it is so important we are prepared! Follow safety advice and educate your children about the dangers of water. It goes without saying that children should always be supervised around water. If your child has a near drowning incident with apparent recovery they should be observed closely for up to 72 hours after; looking for signs and symptoms such as fatigue, cough and breathing difficulties – this is known as secondary drowning.
Protect your child in the sun. Babies and children are a vulnerable group to the dangers of hot weather. I’m all for letting them get their dose of vitamin D, but it is important we are sensible about it. I know we live in the North of Scotland, but the Sun can still be strong at times! If you are going on holiday somewhere hot, take extra precautions. So, my top tips for staying safe in the sun? Simple, apply a high SPF sun cream and try to keep the kids out of the sun during the hottest time of the day. Reapply regularly, especially if they have been in the water. They should be dressed appropriately too i.e. wearing a hat and/or sunglasses. If they do get sunburn, cool the skin first with cool water, apply a soothing lotion such as aloe vera to reduce inflammation and promote healing, then give them some pain relief. If the sunburn looks particularly bad, for example if it blisters, seek medical advice. It is also important that we remind children to have plenty to drink in the summer months, especially when exercising so they don’t get dehydrated.
4. Heat exhaustion
This can be quite common in children in the summer months. It is where the body reacts to the loss of body salts and water due to excessive sweating. Be very alert to this if your child has been playing in the hot weather all day. They may start to look pale, sweaty and complain of headaches, nausea, vomiting, and tummy cramps. If you suspect this, get them to rest inside or take them into a shaded area and try to replace the fluids they have lost by ensuring they have plenty to drink (or perhaps an ice lolly if they refuse this). Oral rehydration solutions may also be of benefit. Even if they seem to recover, it is still advised to seek medical advice. If their condition seems to get worse, phone 999.
5. Bites and stings
As the bees and wasps become busy, we should be aware of how to treat a sting if this occurs. Firstly, educate your child to stay still and not to panic if a stinging insect is nearby! I am petrified of wasps, but I have tried very hard not to react when one comes near me so I don’t send out the wrong message to my children. If they are stung, there will be a red swollen mark on the skin. Bee and wasp stings are best treated by washing the area first with soap and water and then apply a cold compress to reduce swelling for around 10 minutes. Remember pain relief too, as I certainly recall it being sore! If stung by a bee, have a look to see if the sting is still in the skin. If so, this must be removed to avoid more venom being released. The best way to remove it is by scraping the edge of a credit card over the skin. Have a chat with the pharmacist about sting relief creams to avoid them scratching too much and risk becoming infected. If they get stung in the mouth, get them to take sips of cold water or suck on an ice cube. Watch for an allergic reaction too and if they are becoming very unwell after a sting, with signs and symptoms such as breathing difficulties, rash, swollen/puffy face, and vomiting - phone 999!
So, have a wonderful summer and stay safe!