Warm Weather Safety Tips
With the start of summer vacation, it's only natural for kids to head for the coolest spot in the neighborhood. Although a dip in the water refreshes both body and spirit, residential pools are the No. 1 site of childhood drownings.
"It's vital that parents and caregivers exercise caution, especially during this busy drowning season," says Dr. Joan Shook, director of the Texas Children's Hospital Emergency Center and associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.
Shook suggests parents take the following drowning-prevention measures:
- Be sure the pool is enclosed by locked, four-sided isolation fencing and is properly equipped with a pool cover. A phone should be nearby.
- Make sure you and your children learn to swim. By the age of 4, a child should be enrolled in swimming classes.
- Parents should learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
- Make sure a responsible adult is watching children in or near the water at all times.
- Do not let flotation devices take the place of life preservers.
- Make it a rule not to consume food or drink or chew gum or candy while in the water.
- Do not allow diving in shallow or populated areas of the pool.
Even Kids Need Shades
The schoolbooks may be put away; however, eye strain actually can increase for youngsters during the summer months. "Kids who spend many hours outdoors are at higher risk for developing problems from UV rays," says Dr. David Coats, chief of the department of ophthalmology at Texas Children's Hospital and assistant professor of ophthalmology and pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. "Summer is a good time to make wearing sunglasses part of the routine."
Coats recommends taking your child shopping for sunglasses to ensure a comfortable fit for his or her face. Avoid glasses that are trendy but do not provide adequate coverage at all angles.
Check the product tag and look for styles that filter out close to 100 percent of the UV rays. A good pair of shades provides a clear, natural rendition of colors. Buy impact-resistant, polycarbonite styles, and purchase a sturdy storage case to prevent damage when the glasses are not in use. A hat with a wide brim should be worn whenever possible for further sun protection.
Know When a Headache is More Than a Headache
Kids believe the sun's glare, warmer weather, increased physical activity and schedule changes are part of summer's appeal, but these also can be headache triggers. When should parents be concerned that their child's headache could be a symptom of a serious problem?
"Although most headaches are nothing to worry about, more serious symptoms include weakness, double vision, stiff neck, fever, vomiting, coordination problems, unusual sleepiness or lethargy," says Dr. Marvin Fishman, chief of the neurology service at Texas Children's Hospital and professor of pediatrics and neurology at Baylor College of Medicine.
If the headache is severe, if the child has never experienced a similar headache or if the headache doesn't disappear after a day or two, parents should contact a doctor. Any of these symptoms may be warnings of a significant neurological problem.
Because stress and fatigue often contribute to headaches, giving medication at the first sign of pain and encouraging the child to unwind and get a good night's sleep may offer relief. However, moderation is the key. If the episodes are frequent or do not respond to nonprescription drugs, too much medication can actually lead to analgesic-abuse headaches.