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June 21, 2013

Expert from The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Shares Sun, Water and Outdoor Activity Advice


New York (June 21, 2013) – Today is officially the first day of summer and it’s important for Americans to take safety seriously as they head to the beach and into the sun. Every day 10 people die from drowning and more than 600 people die each year from exposure to excessive heat. In order to keep kids active, healthy and out of the Emergency Room this season, Laura Holihan, R.N., Administrative Nurse Manager, Pediatric Emergency Department, The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) shares the following essential summer safety tips.

“As kids get off school and spend more time outdoors, we see an uptick in Emergency Department visits,” Ms. Holihan said. To be sure the season is fun for everyone, she recommends caregivers and kids keep these tips in mind:

  • Sun safety – On average, 618 people per year die due to exposure to excessive natural heat. Protective clothing, a hat with a broad brim and sunglasses will help people keep cool and protect skin from dangerous UV rays, especially during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To avoid sunburn, the equivalent of a shot glass full of sunscreen should be applied to the body and reapplied about every two hours, especially after swimming or playing outdoors. Choose a sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection that blocks both UVA and UVB radiation with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Water safety – Never assume a child is safe with a swimming aide such as a water noodle or arm floaties. An adult should monitor children at all times to reduce the risk of drowning and ensure water play is safe. It’s important to know that small children can drown in as little as one inch of water.
  • Hydration is key – Staying hydrated should be on everyone’s mind all year round, but as the summer sun beats down and the temperature rises, it’s more important than ever. Caregivers should send children to any sporting activity with a water bottle and make sure that they keep it filled while participating in activities. And it’s not just while playing that water matters, hydration should occur before, during and after the activity.
  • Stretching makes a difference – Each year, more than 2.6 million children receive medical treatment for sporting and recreational injuries. Making sure kids properly warm up and stretch before outdoor sports and activities can make all the difference. Stretching helps release muscle tension and can help prevent muscle tears or sprains. Something often forgotten, especially as kids move from one activity to the next, is the importance of stretching after the activity, which can reduce the risk of injuries over time.
  • Bug bites –
    • When a child is stung by a bee, wasp or hornet, wash the site with soap and water and try to remove the stinger. When playing where stinging insects may be present, kids should avoid looking or smelling like a flower and wearing brightly colored clothing or flowery prints. If possible, they should wear pants, long-sleeved shirts, close-toed shoes and socks when playing outdoors.
    • Adults should check food and drinks consumed outdoors, particularly open cans of soda, since yellow-jackets and other stinging insects are attracted to sugar.
    • Other things that caregivers should look out for are Lyme disease and West Nile virus. Lyme disease is caused by bites from very small blacklegged ticks that are infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Children between the ages of 5 and 9 are most affected and symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a telltale bulls-eye skin rash. West Nile Virus is spread by infected mosquitos. Most people do not show symptoms and improve without treatment. Those that do show symptoms may experience fever, headache and body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back.
    • Kids who have had severe allergic reactions to insect bites or stings should consider carrying an epinephrine auto injector (EpiPen). Some people who are allergic can receive a series of allergy desensitization injections to prevent severe reactions in advance of any sting.

The Pediatric Emergency Department at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore receives almost 60,000 emergency care visits per year and is one of the busiest Pediatric Emergency Departments in the tri-state area. CHAM is consistently ranked among the nation’s leading children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. Its physicians and staff are making extraordinary contributions in the field of children’s health, working to curb prevalent problems including obesity, diabetes and asthma. As part of a premier academic medical center, and the pediatric hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine, CHAM is dedicated to training the next generation of pediatric healthcare professionals and transforming the future of children’s health.