*The opinions and advice shared here are not those of Tubby Todd but of our friend Shannon Tripp (RN) and are meant to be used for information on general summer safety. If you are concerned about the health of your little one for any reason please consult your pediatrician.
Summer is here! My family absolutely loves summertime and all of the fun that goes with it—but summer fun can quickly turn to tragedy if we aren’t prepared. My experience as a nurse at a major pediatric emergency room has taught me that accidents can happen to anyone, at any time. However, we shouldn’t live in constant fear and anxiety. Our kids are built to run and play and fall down! But there are some things we can do as parents to proactively prepare for emergencies.
I’ve worked with thousands of moms to inspire confidence when it comes to understanding common illness and injuries and how to help our kids live a healthy and happy life. On Instagram (@shantripp) I share my best advice for how moms can care for their children and avoid unnecessary or unplanned trips to the hospital. As they say ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’
As our normal routines and summer plans have been interrupted by the pandemic and social distancing requirements, I believe it’s as important as ever to get outside with our kids! As you prepare your family for summer fun, consider your preparedness and understanding around these three topics: burns, water safety, and dehydration. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
“Don’t operate out of fear or anxiety about what could happen, but rather live a full life with the knowledge and confidence that you are prepared to help your child if illness or injury occurs.“
When we think of burns during the summer, our minds quickly go to ‘sunburns’. We know that using a good sunscreen (by Tubby Todd, of course) can help prevent sunburns. If your child does get a sunburn (guilty) I recommend a natural remedy like aloe vera, coconut oil, or manuka honey that can help ease the pain and help the skin heal.
The burns that I’ve seen in the emergency room are usually the second or third degree burns that happen because of other various factors. Here are some simple tips for preventing serious burns:
- Boil hot water on the back of the stove out of reach (turn handle toward back of stove)
- Safe covering for fireplace
- Make sure your water heater is at a safe temperature
- Cover electrical outlets
- Keep candles out of reach
- Keep fireworks out of reach
- Keep hot liquids such as soup or coffee out of reach
- Feel playground equipment prior to use
If your little one gets a serious burn, seek medical care immediately. If the burn is small and red, you may be able to help from home by taking three simple steps: cool it, clean it, and cover it. Run it under cool water for 5-10 minutes, maybe a little soap if needed, don’t break a blister, and cover it with a non-stick bandage or loose wrap.
Some of the most gut-wrenching experiences I have had in my ten years of nursing have been from kids drowning. One minute they are having the time of their life, and the next their life is in jeopardy. This is a reality for too many parents, and I’d bet you might even know one. As adults and caregivers we need to understand how common this is and educate ourselves on ways we can help keep our children safe.
Did you know that babies and toddlers can drown in just two inches of water? This knowledge changes our perspective on how dangerous water can be for them. The most common place a child is likely to drown is a swimming pool. In fact, nearly 75% of all drownings are in swimming pools, and about 75% of those are children under the age of five years old.
“Drownings are the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 – 4, and three children die every day as a result of drowning.”—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Drowning is silent and it can happen in an instant. And yes, I say this to scare you—because drowning is something that is preventable. There are a few things we can do to help prevent a drowning incident:
- Supervision! The number one way to keep our kids safe is to supervise them. We are so easily distracted by other kids, our phones, dishing food or snacks, so it’s important to identify what distracts us and do our best to eliminate what we can.
- Empty all containers/tubs Wading pools, bathtubs, buckets, coolers with melted ice, anything that holds two inches of water poses a potential risk for drowning.
- Teach kids how to swim More and more parents are teaching their kids to swim or enrolling them in a good ISR course (infant swimming resource). If you aren’t able to access swimming lessons, I recommend swimming with your child or using a floatation device like a puddle jumper. Puddle jumpers have been the topic of debate, but remember, we are not here to ‘mom shame.’ What works for one busy mom may not work for another. When it comes to puddle jumpers never take them off and put them back on. If you use a puddle jumper or life jacket, do not take it off until you are DONE swimming. This gives the child a false sense of security.
- Install a four-sided fence If you have a home pool, it’s recommended to have a fence directly around the pool, not just the whole yard. The fence should be entirely separate from everything else and preferably have a self-latching gate that opens outward.
- Be a water watcher Resolve to be the adult who pays close attention to children in the water. If you’re at a party with a lot of people, work with a close friend or family member to switch off watching the water activity.
- Learn and certify in CPR Drowning does happen and it happens so fast. Whether it’s your own child or someone else’s, being prepared with lifesaving CPR skills is so important. Groups like the American Red Cross provide trainings. I also demonstrate CPR for infants and children in my online course Mastering Medical Emergencies for Moms.
As our kids run around in the summer heat they can quickly become dehydrated. Yes, dehydration is serious and can result in an emergency visit to the hospital. When our kids are thirsty this is our first clue that their body needs more water. But it’s important that we offer drinks of water or liquids every 30 minutes to prevent dehydration. The more they sweat, either from heat or activity, the more they need to drink to feel well and avoid nausea or vomiting.
Here are a few things to watch for that indicate a child is likely dehydrated:
- Dry mouth and lips
- Few to no tears when crying
- 6-8 hours between diapers/urination
- Decreased activity or is less interactive
- Pale skin, with dark circles around eyes (late signs)
- In babies, the soft part on top of their head (fontanel) appears sunken in
Seek medical help if the child is showing signs of dehydration, and you are not able to get them to drink enough.
So, what’s the best drink to prevent dehydration? WATER! If your child is sick with vomiting or has diarrhea then you’ll want an electrolyte drink like Pedialyte (try the organic options) or Gatorade G2 (less sugars). Remember to limit sugary drinks, especially sodas with caffeine. These drinks will not help much, and just cause the child to urinate a lot, getting rid of needed fluids.
I hope this information helps you as your family chases fun and adventure this summer! Don’t operate out of fear or anxiety about what could happen, but rather live a full life with the knowledge and confidence that you are prepared to help your child if illness or injury occurs.
Wishing you a fun and safe summer!