How to Keep Your Kids Out of the ER This Summer
Spending more time outdoors? Here are some tips to keep your kids safe and avoid a trip to the emergency room.
To avoid Covid exposure, you’ll probably spend more time outside this summer. It’s a great way to get active as a family, but being outdoors exposes kids to additional health risks. There are more ER visits in the summer than in any other season. These tips will help you keep your kids safe and avoid a trip to the emergency room.
Always use insect repellent when your kids play outside. The EPA recommends that, for safety reasons, parents avoid spraying bug spray directly onto children. Instead, apply it to your hands, and then put it on the child. Remember to check for ticks after kids are exposed to grassy or wooded areas. Wearing long pants can also prevent tick bites. If your child has any serious symptoms, such as a rash or fever, after playing outside, contact a doctor.
Start teaching your children water safety early, and always supervise them, even if they are proficient in the water. Make sure they know how to swim and that they only swim when there’s a lifeguard on duty, especially in the ocean, where the water can be unpredictable. Encourage children to wear foot protection, like aqua socks, in a lake or pond. Ensure that your kids know to never dive headfirst in shallow water and always swim with a buddy or an adult.
Have your child wear a helmet while riding bikes, trikes, scooters, skates, or hoverboards. Start with a helmet on your child’s very first ride; children who learn to ride with a helmet will prefer riding with a helmet to riding without. Insist on the helmet to keep your child safe on their first ride and beyond.
Flip-flops are fine for a casual summer stroll. However, when going to the park, camp, or other active destinations, your child should wear sneakers or shoes comfortable for running. Children in flip-flops sustain more serious ankle and foot injuries than other children. Don’t let your child’s footwear put them at risk.
In the summer, the sun is strong even when it’s cloudy outside. Protect your child’s skin by applying sunscreen (SPF 30 or greater) before they leave the house. Make sure your child has an easy spray-on or face-stick sunscreen for frequent reapplication during the day. Reapply often if kids are swimming or outside for many hours at a time. Also use UV sunglasses and hats to protect them from prolonged sun exposure.
Children, especially infants, are very sensitive to heat. Avoid overheating by following these steps:
- Encourage kids to drink liquids such as water and sports drinks.
- Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Schedule outdoor activities for morning and evening hours, to avoid the heat of the day.
- Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
Riding down a slide on a parent's lap can be dangerous for toddlers. Riding down a slide on a parent's lap can be dangerous for toddlers. Between 2002 and 2015, an estimated 350,000 emergency room visits were for children 5 years old and younger who were injured on playground slides. Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. found that nearly 14% of pediatric leg fractures over an 11-month period involved toddlers riding down the slide with a parent. If your child is not old enough to handle the slide alone, steer them elsewhere on the playground.
In 2018, more than 110,000 people visited emergency rooms for trampoline-related injuries, and more than 300,000 people required medical treatment. More than 90% of trampoline injuries are sustained by children, and typically involve sprains or fractures in the arms and legs. Most injuries do not occur because kids fall off the trampoline, but because another child lands on them, or they do something inappropriate, such as riding a bike on the trampoline. If you have a trampoline, make sure only one person uses it at a time—with supervision.
If possible, avoid going to the emergency room on Monday afternoons and evenings, and bring a friend or advocate to assist you.
For personalized guidance and ongoing support navigating the healthcare system, reach out to an expert health advisor.