Have a safe and happy Fourth

Happy 235th birthday America! With any luck your weekend celebrations will be full of cookouts, swimming and maybe even a firework display or two. But as the festivities begin, please keep in mind that kids are at an increased risk for injury during holidays.

Of course you already know about firework safety: How could you not when every July 3rd news agencies from coast to coast run stories to promote it? It’s an important reminder, but the majority of the injuries that occur on holidays happen during everyday activities. With this in mind I spoke with a few experts around the hospital to create this list of potential accidents and injuries that parents should be on the look out for this weekend.

Summer sun. The Fourth of July is a great time to get outside as a family and enjoy some sun, but don’t forget the sunscreen! For babies younger than 6 months though, the suggestions rely around simply keeping them out of the sun. Stay in the shade, and dress them in lightweight clothes and long-brimmed hats that cover arms, legs, face and neck.  But we know that constant shade isn’t going to work for everyone, so if your young one is going to be out in the sun this weekend, make sure she has small amounts of sunscreen covering all exposed areas like the hands and neck. Should a burn occur, treat it with a cold compress.

Older, more active kids should have at least one ounce of sunscreen applied to their bodies when exposed to direct sun, applied once every two hours (or immediately after swimming.)

When the sun is at it’s peak between 10 am and 4 pm, hats and sunglasses are a great way to protect their eyes and face. And because water reflects the sun’s rays with intensity, buy waterproof ones to splash around in. If their clothes and glasses are too fancy to get wet, bring a cheaper set to be worn during water play.

Heat illness. Depending on the temperature, too much physical activity outside can be dangerous. Make sure you have plenty of water on hand and remind kids to break for drinks often, even when they’re not feeling thirsty. If a child complains about dizziness, headache, nausea or muscle cramps they may be over heated or at risk for heat illness. If a child has of any of these symptoms, have him lie down in a cool, shaded area with his feet slightly elevated, with drinking water and a cool cloth on hand. If symptoms persist or are extreme, seek immediate medical help as heat stroke is possible in children and can be very dangerous.

Kids this young should be supervised AT ALL times around water

Swimming. Holiday or not, drowning is a very real danger. Pools, oceans and lakes all provide unique risks, but there are some universal swimming safety tips that every parent should know.

  • Children under 5 years and those who cannot swim should have “touch supervision” meaning a caregiver must be within touching distance of the child in case they become submerged under the water.
  • Inflatable swimming aids or toys like water wings and other “floaties” should only be used when child has touch supervision. They are not a substitute for approved life vests and sometimes give children and parents a false sense of security.
  • Parents, caregivers and teenagers are encouraged to learn CPR—in near drowning situations the ability to perform CPR immediately could save a life.Alcohol and swimming are a dangerous combination, both for swimmers and supervisors.
  • In pool party scenarios, appoint one adult to watch the pool at all times, which means no drinking or distractions. This lessens confusion over who is watching the kids, leading to a potentially dangerous window of time where young people are around water unsupervised. If teenagers will be unsupervised around water, take extra caution to warn them against the dangers of drinking and swimming.

Food. Everyone loves a good BBQ on the Fourth of July. No one is going to begrudge you a hot dog or burger on the greatest grilling holiday around, but why not balance those greasy foods out with a few healthy sides? Here are links to a few delicious and healthy summer recipes from Chop Chop magazine, a quarterly magazine and website that promotes healthy living for kids and their families.

Oven Fried Chicken– Oven-fried chicken is healthier than pan-fried, and won’t smoke up the kitchen!

Twice Baked Potatoes– Skip the chip and try this flavorful potato treat.

Cauliflower popcorn– Crispy and brown on the outside, just like the real thing, but with far more nutrients on the inside.