Children’s Health: Dos and Don’ts for Summer Break
Medical experts from the Schneieder Children’s Medical Center have published a list of recommendations for a safe and healthy summer vacation.
There are usually significantly more injuries among children during the summer months than the rest of the year, with dehydration, drowning, and falls all more common. The Schneieder doctors suggest ways to keep kids safe, without keeping them indoors or inactive, which, they noted, creates a risk of unhealthy excess weight.
Dehydration: Common symptoms of dehydration include a dry mouth, infrequent urination, restlessness and crying without tears. Dehydration can also cause headaches, confusion, dizziness and even a loss of consciousness. If dehydration is suspected, the victim should immediately drink water and go to a nearby medical center or emergency room for treatment. If the victim is not fully conscious, an ambulance should be called.
Sun exposure: During any outing a hat should be worn to prevent heatstroke, and skin should be protected by clothing or sunscreen. It is advised to avoid exposure to sunlight between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., when the sun is strongest.
Bikes and scooters: Children should wear helmets, elbow guards and knee guards when riding bicycles, scooters or rollerblades. A helmet is the most effective way of preventing head injury. Riding should take place only in designated areas, and never on noisy streets.
Drowning: Children age 5 and under require constant supervision near water. Children who cannot swim well should wear flotation devices. Pools in private homes frequented by children should have a fence to prevent drowning. Parents are advised to teach their children how to swim beginning at age 5.
Jellyfish: While jellyfish stings cause pain, they are generally not dangerous. In order to reduce pain, it is advised not to rub the affected area, but rather to rinse the body in sea water, and then use a soothing cream. If the victim feels weak, or if blisters appear over a large area of skin, they should seek medical attention.
Stings: If a child suffers a bee sting, the stinger should be removed from the skin. It is important not to try to pull the stinger out directly, but rather to gently push it out. If the child develops signs of an allergic reaction, such as shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, or swelling to the face or lips, they should receive immediate medical attention.
Falls: Parents are advised to move sofas, beds and other furniture away from windows, and to forbid children to play on roofs or balconies without adult supervision. In addition, it is advised that bars be put on upper-story windows in homes frequented by children in order to prevent falls.
Summer camp: Many children spend at least half the summer in day camps. Parents are advised to check the food options available, and to ensure that their children will not simply be given a roll and chocolate spread each day, but rather, that a variety of toppings such as cheese and tehina will be made available. If children remain in camp until the afternoon, parents should check the lunch menu to ensure that they are getting a healthy lunch. Check for allergenic issues.
Drinks: Water fountains and similar devices should be accessible to children. It is advised to give children their own water bottle as well, which will help them keep track of how much they are drinking. Parents should speak to children about the importance of remaining hydrated, and should advise children in day camps to drink at least half a liter of water during their time in camp.
Activity: Children should be encouraged to remain active and not to spend the vacation sitting in front of a television or computer.