How to keep your children out of the Emergency Room this summer
There are more ER visits in the summer than in any other season. Children especially are exposed to more risks during summer. Here are some tips to keep your kids safe and avoid a trip to the ER.
Always use insect repellant when your kids play outside. According to Dr. Mark Melrose, Chief of Emergency Service, NYC H+H/North Central Bronx, you should always be aware of ticks after kids are exposed to wooded areas. Encourage your children to wear long pants if playing in wooded areas, and check them and your pets for ticks when they come inside. If your child has any blotchy rashes after playing outside, have them evaluated by a doctor. Read more safety tips here.
Start teaching your children water safety early, and always supervise them, even if they are proficient in the water. Make sure 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 they should 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, 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. So, insist on the helmet - it will keep your child safe from their first ride and beyond.
Flip-flops are great 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 then 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. Cover your child in sunscreen (SPF 15 or greater) before they leave the house. Make sure your child has an easy spray-on or facestick 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 or hats to protect them from prolonged sun exposure.
It gets hot in NYC and children, especially infants, are very sensitive to heat. Avoid over-heating by following these steps:
• Encourage kids to drink liquids such as water and Gatorade
• 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. 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. Read more here.
More than 1 million people went to emergency departments for trampoline-related injuries between 2002 and 2011. Nearly 300,000 of those injuries involved broken bones. 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 at a time uses it -- with supervision.
If you do need to visit the emergency room, and can choose when you go, avoid Monday afternoons and evenings. Bring a friend or advocate to assist you.