Ten Tips for Avoiding a Summer Trip to the Emergency Department

Monday, July 13, 2015

Greenwich, CT – From bike riding to pool parties to cruising on skateboards, summer recreational activities undertaken without proper precautions can send people to the Emergency Department.

“A summer celebration can turn into a dangerous and potentially deadly situation within minutes,” said Christopher Davison, MD, medical director of the Greenwich Hospital Emergency Department. “But with a little forethought and planning, kids can have a safe and fun summer!”

Here are suggestions for staying safe this summer:

Water safety: Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14. Provide constant supervision near pools, lakes and other water spots. Sign children up for Red Cross-certified swimming lessons at age 4 or 5. Let the supervising adult know whether your child can swim.

Heat-related illness: Stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids to avoid developing heat exhaustion and heat stroke, a potentially deadly condition. Heat stroke can occur in children within minutes, even if the car window is opened slightly. Never leave children in an unattended car. On hot days, stay in areas with air conditioning, reduce strenuous activities, carry water bottles, and wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes.

Protective gear: Enjoy your favorite pastime safely by wearing the appropriate protective equipment, including multi-sport helmets, elbow guards, kneepads, wrist guards and reflective clothing and gear, when appropriate.

Allergy awareness: Stay alert to situations that could trigger life-threatening allergic reactions from bee stings, peanuts and more. Make sure the medications needed to manage allergies – such as Benadryl, epinephrine pens and other prescribed drugs – haven’t expired.

Playgrounds: Seek out playgrounds with safe surfaces, such as rubber, mulch or fine sand, and make sure the equipment is up-to-date. Never allow children to wear necklaces or anything that could cause strangulation at the playground.

All-terrain vehicles: Say no to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). More than one-third of the rising number of ATV deaths involved children under 16 and one study showed they are at risk whether they wear helmets or not. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents prohibit children under 16 from riding on ATVs.

Fire hazards: Take the risk of burns seriously. Stick with public fireworks managed by professionals. Watch children carefully around grills or campfires.

Sunburn: Limit exposure to the sun especially between 10 am and 4 pm. Even on cool or overcast days, apply water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher 30 minutes before going outdoors. Reapply it every two hours. Use caution when a child is taking a medication that causes sun sensitivity.

Bug bites: Kids can get Lyme disease and West Nile virus walking in the woods or playing in the backyard. Use bug spray containing no more than 10 percent DEET on children (but never on babies). Dress kids in shoes, light-colored long sleeve shirts and long pants, then pull socks over pant cuffs. Check children for ticks and bug bites daily.

Food poisoning: Fast-growing bacteria in warm weather can turn picnics into danger zones with children among the hardest hit. Wash hands with soap and water before cooking and eating, keep raw food separate from cooked food, cook food thoroughly and never leave food out for more than one hour.

Greenwich Hospital is a member of Yale New Haven Health. Greenwich is a 206-bed (includes 32 isolettes) community hospital serving lower Fairfield County, Connecticut and Westchester County, New York. It is a academic affiliate of Yale School of Medicine. Since opening in 1903, Greenwich Hospital has evolved into a progressive medical center and teaching institution representing all medical specialties and offering a wide range of medical, surgical, diagnostic and wellness programs. Greenwich Hospital is recognized throughout the healthcare industry as a leader in service and patient satisfaction excellence. Greenwich Hospital has the prestigious Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the nation’s highest honor of nursing excellence.