Summertime and The Living Is…Hazardous

It’s summertime and the living is supposed to be easy. This is the traditional time for picnics, swimming and playing outdoors.

People also garden and mow during this wonderful time of year, but hazards for children abound.

Picnics: Everyone enjoys a good picnic, but undercooked, unwashed or contaminated food can carry foul bacteria such as Salmonella or E. coli HN157.

The gastroenteritis-causing norovirus can also be spread through food.

Meats should be cooked thoroughly. Raw meats should be kept away (along with eggs and shellfish) from other foods.

Appropriate foods should be kept cold until ready to eat.

Swimming: Drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children, who should always be supervised when swimming.

Home pools should be fenced on all sides with a gate latch that cannot be opened by the younger ones.

Outside Play: Sunburns are painful but avoidable. Sunscreen should be applied (SPF 30 or higher) and then reapplied every two hours to those playing outdoors.

Sunscreen should be applied more often if the children are sweating or are playing in the water.

If a child playing outside becomes dizzy, nauseous or develops a headache, he may be coming down with heatstroke.

Red skin and decreased sweating are also signs that a child should be taken out of the sun and given liquids.

Bugs: Insect bites and stings can be treated with cold compresses and antihistamines if needed.

Using an insect repellent with 10-30% DEET (in those 2 months of age or older) can help prevent bites and stings.

Immediate medical attention is needed for children with eye and lip swelling and respiratory distress after being stung.

Poison Ivy: This red-stemmed plant with leaves in groups of three can cause an itchy, bubbly red rash on skin exposed to its sap.

Poison ivy should be avoided if possible. Cool compresses, antihistamines and topical hydrocortisone may be used to treat it.

Gardening: Children younger than 12 should not use push mowers. Riding lawnmowers should only be used by those 16 and above. No child should be riding as a passenger on a riding lawnmower.

Gardening chemicals such as fertilizers, weed controllers and pesticides should be stored securely, preferably in a locked cabinet, to keep them out of reach of children.

Gasoline should also be stored safely to keep it out of the wrong hands.

Have fun this summer, but be safe.