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Summer Safety for You and Your Kids

Heat Illness continued...

The risk of heat illness goes up during exertion and sports and with certain health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Alcohol use also increases the risk. So do medications that slow sweat production such as antihistamines.

Young children are especially vulnerable to heat illness. During the summer of 2003, at least 42 children in the U.S. died after being left in hot cars. What some people don't realize is that the temperature inside a car can climb much higher than temperatures outside during a sunny day. Heat stroke in children can occur within minutes, even if a car window is opened slightly. The same is true for pets.

Heat illness prevention and treatment

Air conditioning is the No. 1 protective factor against heat illness. If you don't have air conditioning, spend time in public facilities, such as libraries and malls, that have air conditioning. Fans can help too although less than air conditioning.

Reduce strenuous activities or do them during early mornings and evenings when it's cooler. If you're outside for long stretches of time, carry a water bottle, drink fluids regularly, and don't push your limits. People who play sports should wear light, loose fitting clothes and drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after activity. For example, a 90 pound child needs to drink about 6 ounces every 15 minutes during warm weather exercise. Cold water and sports drinks are good for hydration, but avoid soda and juices. If you see someone showing signs of heat illness, have the person lie down in a cool place and elevate the legs. Use water, wet towels, and fanning to help cool the person down until emergency help comes.

 

Burns From Fireworks and Grills

July 4, 2002, Sia Karpinski of Akron, Ohio, stepped on a discarded sparkler with bare feet. She was treated for serious burns at the Burn Center at Akron Children's Hospital as an outpatient for about six weeks.

The CDC estimates that about 7,000 people were treated in emergency rooms in 2008 for injuries associated with fireworks. Half of those injured were children. Most injuries involved the hands, head, and eyes. 

Two more causes of serious summer burns are children playing around grills or throwing objects into campfires.

Burn prevention and treatment

Stick with public firework displays handled by professionals. Children should always be closely supervised when food is being cooked indoors or outdoors. Be aware that gas leaks, blocked tubes, and overfilled propane tanks cause most gas grill fires and explosions. Teach children to cover their faces, stop, drop, and roll if their clothes catch fire.

Generally, minor burns smaller than a person's palm can be treated at home. But burns bigger than that, and burns on the hands, feet, face, genitals, and moving joints usually require emergency treatment. For a minor injury you can run cool water over it and cover it with a clean, dry cloth. Don't use ice, which can worsen a burn. And don't apply petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or butter, which can hold heat in the tissue. Consult your family doctor if a minor burn does not heal in a couple of days or if there are signs of infection, such as redness and swelling or worsening pain.

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