Pests and Plants More bummers to watch out for this summer
the children, as currents can be unpredictable. Children who are not strong swimmers should wear a Coast Guard–approved life jacket until
they are able to do the following on their own: Jump into the water and return to the surface
Tread water and/or float Locate the exit in a pool Swim at least 25 yards to safety Get out of the water safely
It may be surprising to learn that most drownings occur in pools. Continue designating an adult to be the “water watcher” even after children have mastered the water competencies listed above. Also, smaller kids and those who aren’t good swimmers should wear a life jacket in the pool. “Water watchers, water competency and life jackets will reduce the risks and increase the fun around water,” Lynn says. For adventuring on dry land, appropriate and properly fit helmets can help prevent serious injury. Helmets should be worn on bikes, scooters and skateboards—it’s against the law for riders under 18 to go without—and all-terrain vehicles, which are popular in mountainous areas. In 2020, Rady Children’s saw 102 ATV-related trauma cases— more than in the three years prior combined—and more than 40 percent of those patients weren’t wearing helmets. Kids are most likely to develop a good helmet habit if they see the adults in their family wearing them, too. If hiking is your summer activity of choice, make sure your child has well-fitting shoes appropriate for the trail conditions, and don’t overestimate their hiking ability. Avoid planning outdoor activities during the hottest part of the day, from noon to 4 p.m.; dress kids in light-colored, lightweight clothing; and make sure they’re drinking plenty of water. And in any situation that puts kids at risk for injury, a well-stocked first aid kit and a charged cell phone are essential.
FIGHT THE BITE While you’re enjoying summer barbecues and picnics, ticks, mosquitoes and other creepy-crawlies lurk in the background, ready to ruin a good time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a few tips to prevent pest bites and stings. Don’t let mosquitoes make a meal out of your family. Dress kids in clothing that covers their arms and legs and cover car seats and strollers with mosquito netting. Use a chemical insect repellent (DEET and picaridin are considered safe for kids over two months) or try a natural remedy like lemon eucalyptus oil. Also, clear your yard of standing water weekly. If your kids get bit, wash the area with soap and water, apply an ice pack for 10 minutes, then slather the bite with an over-the-counter anti-itch cream. Ticks can ruin a hike. Wear long pants and high socks while walking in brushy or wooded areas and while camping or gardening. Protect your kids with permethrin- treated clothing and gear (do not apply directly to skin). After spending time outdoors, check your and your kids’ clothes, bodies and gear, and shower within two hours. If you find a tick, remove it carefully with tweezers. If a fever or rash develops in the next few weeks, consult a physician. Bees , wasps and hornets are known to frequent areas with flowers and where sweet food and drinks are present. If a single one is nearby, stay calm and it will likely leave you alone. If you encounter a swarm or hive, run. If you or your child gets stung and the stinger remains in the skin, scrape with a fingernail or credit card to remove it (do not use tweezers, which may squeeze more venom into the wound). Then wash the area with soap and water, and apply ice. Watch for signs of an allergic reaction. LEAVES OF THREE, LET IT BE San Diego County is crawling with poison ivy, oak and sumac. An oil called urushiol, found in the leaves of this terrible trio, causes an itchy and sometimes painful rash that lingers for up to three days. Know what to look for and spare your kids (and yourself) the misery. You can spot poison ivy by its distinctive arrangement of three leaflets, with one in the center and one on either side. The shine on the leaves is also a giveaway. Poison oak leaves also come in threes, but are bigger and have toothed edges like an oak tree leaf. It can grow as a shrub or climbing vine. The leaves on a poison sumac shrub each have seven to 13 smooth leaflets and reddish stems.
SUMMER 2021 HEALTHY KIDS MAGAZINE 9
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