5 outdoor injuries to protect your kids from this summer.
Warm weather is just around the corner, and parents everywhere are gearing up for a summer unlike any other. Instead of being cooped up inside from state shutdowns, families are free to go outside and play to their heart’s content!
But parents still need to be mindful of other potential dangers that can pop up when playing outside. Weather, animals, and injuries can turn a leisurely day in the park or a family hike into a bad and dangerous situation. Make sure you’re ready and prepared to deal with outdoor injuries and hazards so you can keep your family safe and happy this summer.
Sunburns are one of the most common (and most preventable) injuries that everyone gets at some point or another if they spend a lot of time outside. Kids hate putting it on, but it’s important that parents put their foot down and get them lathered up in some strong (30+) SPF sunscreen.
Sun safety doesn’t just prevent painful sunburns, it keeps your kids—and yourself—from potentially getting skin cancer later in life. Make sure you reapply your kid’s sunscreen every couple of hours if you’re in the sun for long periods of time. If your kids are making a huge fuss about applying sunscreen, have them wear long-sleeved clothing to keep their bare skin from being exposed. And don’t forget to wear a hat!
First aid kit: sunscreen, aloe vera, extra hat
For kids, summer means running around in the grass barefoot without a care in the world. But one wrong step and your kid could easily twist or sprain their ankle. Even though it may not be your kid’s favorite thing to do, get them to wear shoes every time they go out in the woods or on uneven terrain (no, flip-flops don’t count).
If you’re going out on a family hike, make sure everyone is wearing hiking boots with a sturdy sole and ankle support. You don’t want to be a couple of miles into a trail and suddenly have someone unable to walk from a sprained ankle! If someone does get a hiking injury, stop immediately, whip out your first aid kit, and start following the R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) first aid principles as soon as possible.
First aid kit: an ankle brace, Ibuprofen, compression bandage
It can be hard to get kids to stop playing outside long enough to get them to drink water, but it’s crucial to keep them healthy, hydrated, and safe during the summer. Dehydration is dangerous and can be life-threatening if you don’t take it seriously and do everything you can to prevent even becoming the tiniest bit dehydrated.
Since kids can’t get rid of body heat as easily as adults, it’s much easier for them to become dehydrated. As a parent, you’ll want to watch them closely if they’re going to be outside for long periods of time like in the park or if they’re playing in a sports game. Wearing lightweight, light-colored clothing will also help the heat dissipate faster. You should also make sure they’re drinking water (with electrolytes) at least every 20 minutes.
First aid kit: extra water, cold compress, an electrolyte solution
Poison ivy & poison oak
Kids love exploring new places and it can be hard to keep them on the trail when you’re out exploring nature on a hike. Depending on where you live, poison ivy and poison oak can be just a couple of steps from a trail. You’ll want to read up on the poisonous plants in your area before you head outside so you know how to spot—and avoid—them before becoming exposed. Thankfully, both poison ivy and poison oak have pretty recognizable leaf patterns so most people are able to steer clear.
If your child does come in contact with poison ivy or poison oak leaves, you’ll want to act fast without scaring them. You can treat the itching with OTC medicine, but you can also help their itching and symptoms by:
- Bathing them in colloidal oatmeal
- Applying cold compresses
- Applying calamine lotion or corticosteroid cream
- Giving them diphenhydramine medicine to help them sleep
First aid kit: calamine lotion, cold compress, an oral antihistamine
Insect bites & stings
As the weather gets warmer, the bugs start coming back out again. Keep the bugs far away from your kids and off of their skin by preparing ahead of time. If you’re going outside and you know there are a bunch of mosquitoes, ticks, and black flies in your area, dress your kids in clothing with long sleeves, tuck their pants into their socks, and make sure to wear closed-toed shoes. And of course, wear a lot of bug spray.
If a bug does find its way to your kid’s skin and bites/stings them, there are some things you can do to lessen your kid’s pain and itchiness. You’ll want to thoroughly wash the area with soap and water and cover it with an ice pack to reduce swelling. If your child was stung, make sure the stinger is out—if not, you’ll want to gently remove it from their skin. You’ll also want to apply calamine or other antihistamine creams to the area as well.
First aid kit: Bug spray, hydrocortisone cream, EpiPen, calamine lotion
Always carry a first aid kit
If you’re heading out into nature, you’ll want to have a small first aid kit nearby. You can keep it stashed in your car if it’s going to be a simple park visit or picnic, but if you’re heading on a hike, keep it nearby and in your backpack. Happy summer and stay safe!