The new school year may be just around the corner but the summer heat is still here. According to a doctor at Baylor College of Medicine, the warmer months are when children are more prone to certain injuries due to their increase in outdoor activities.
“In the summer, we see a lot of injuries, such as falls from bicycles that result in abrasions or lacerations that may require stitches as well as injuries related to the pool,” said Dr. Frene LaCour-Chestnut, assistant professor of internal medicine-pediatrics at Baylor. “Pool injuries could be as simple as a fall or scrape due to running around the pool or more severe, such as head injuries, near-drownings and drownings.”
As a parent it is important to be able to accurately assess your child’s injuries and be aware of the appropriate medical attention depending on the injury and severity. LaCour-Chestnut provides the following basic rules of thumb:
For a minor injury, bleeding should slow and stop within 15 minutes and usually does not require a visit to the emergency room.
Follow the 3 Ds rule to help you determine if you should seek medical attention for a cut. If a laceration is Deep, Dirty, and/or Does not stop bleeding, seek medical attention to determine if your child may need stitches.
If you still aren’t sure, try calling your doctor’s office first. They may be able to give advice on whether or not a child’s injury requires an emergency room, urgent care center or simply a visit to the doctor’s office, especially if they are open on the weekends.
Lacour-Chestnut says that parents should keep a close eye on head injuries. A parent should seek emergency room care if their child shows the following signs and symptoms after a head injury:
Suffers from a seizure
Very strong headache
Altered level of consciousness – this means very tired or sleepy after head injury
The child may be suffering from a concussion, which left untreated can have lasting effects.
“Dry drowning and secondary drowning syndrome are two different phenomenons but can lead to severe consequences. Dry drowning occurs when breathing in water causes your child’s vocal cords to spasm and prevents air from getting into the lungs. Secondary drowning syndrome occurs when the child has inhaled some water into their lungs and that leads to excess water in the lungs, also known as pulmonary edema. Both of these can occur hours after leaving the pool, beach, lake or any body of water,” said LaCour-Chestnut.
When this occurs a child may initially seem okay but several hours after the may start to develop respiratory symptoms. These symptoms include:
Shortness of breath
Feeling very tired
“These incidents are very scary, and we cannot predict which child is going to develop issues with their lungs after having trouble while swimming,” said LaCour-Chestnut. “If your child begins to develop any of the symptoms discussed, you should seek medical care right away.”
LaCour-Chestnut advises that regardless of your child’s swimming experience it is always important to have proper supervision when they are in the water. Children should swim where a lifeguard is present and wear an approved life-saving device while in or around the water. If swimming in a pool or other body of water where a lifeguard is not present, all children should be within arm’s reach of an adult who knows how to swim and how to perform CPR in the event there is an emergency.
“Teaching children and adults about water safety child would go a long way toward preventing drownings and near-drownings,” she said.