26 March 2009

Warm- Weather, Well-Being

Summer can be a happy, healthy time for kids, but it's also when adults need to do the most to keep youngters safe and well. "Children have more time on their hands, often unsupervised, and they spend that time enjoying potentially risky activities," says Heather Paul, Ph. D., executive director of the National SAFE KIDS campaign. Follow these tips to help children stay healthy from now til school bells toll again.

Sports and Play

Games and sports should be supervised by an adult, no matter what the kids' age ad experience. Coaches should complete a certification program that includes first aid, fitness, teaching techniques and basic skills.

Don't let children play one, even in the yard. Secure fences and gates. Lock up gardening tools and yard chemicals.

Know your neighborhood. Show children which areas are off-limits for play: garages, abandoned buildings, construction sites, Dumpsters, waterfronts and railroad tracks.

Ensure playground safety. Almost a quarter of a million kids a year are hurt at playgrounds. Keep children off equipment that's unstable, splintered, corroded etc. The ground surface should be a shock-absorbing material, such as a rbber mat or artificial turf, or a loose fill like sand, sawdust, double-shredded mulch or fine gravel. Avoid concrete, asphalt, hard-packed dirt and patchy grass.

Active kids become dehydrated and hungry more quickly than adults, so frequent water and snack breaks are crucial. If a child looks tired or overheated, remove her or him from play. A child who complains of pain may have an injury, and should cut back the frequency and intensity of play or sports practice.

Children must wear and use proper equipment - batting helmets and quick release bases for Little League basebal, for example - that's size for them.

A child's skin is more sensitive than an adult's, and childhood sunburn increases the risk of skin cancer later. Have all children wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 anytime they're outdoors on summer days.

Bicycle Riding

Two-thirds of bike-related fatalities happen between May and September. Remind children that a bicycle is a vehicle not a toy. Have them attend a bike safety day or rodeo.

A helmet is an absolute must; take our child's bike away if he or she won't wear one. Three-quarters of all child-bicyclist deaths are from head injuries, according to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. Make sure the helmet fits.

Have your child's bike tuned and inspected regularly, especially the brakes, wheels, tires, gear shifts and reflectors.

Encourage children to use bike paths. A child is eigth times more likely to be hurt riding in the street than on a path.

Plants and Animals

Instruct children never to eat any plant part. If you suspect a child has ingested a poisonous plant, call your local Poison Control Center immediately.

Poison ivy and poison oak are a common cause of summer itching and rashes, and can cause more severe problems in some children. Teach kids to recognize and avoid these three-leafed plats.

Tell your pediatrician if a child receives 10 or more insect stings at one time, or if swelling lasts more than a day.

In rare cases, bee stings and other insect bites can be deadly. If a child wheezes, collapses, turns pale or blue, or has difficulty in breathing, abdominal cramps, hives or swollen lips, eyes, throat, tongue, hands or feet after a bite or sting, call an ambulance.

Check children for ticks anytime they play in woods or fields. Tell your pediatrician if a child gets a rash, fever or joint pain within a few weeks of a tick bite.

Dog bites oer 1.2 million children a year. Wash any bite thoroughly with warm water and soap, and ell your child's doctor. If a child is bitten by a wild animal, inform your pediatrician and call the local animal contro officer or the police.

(By: Gordon Bakoulis)

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