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Keep your kids safe and happy this summer

As temperatures rise and days get longer, kids’ thoughts naturally turn to summer fun. In the U.P. families are lucky to have miles of trails and woods to explore, along with plenty of lakes for boating and swimming. But all that natural beauty can lead to injuries and health issues if we aren’t careful. Here are a few tips to make sure kids have a safe, happy summer.

Sun and heat.  Heat stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. If your child has hot, red skin along with a fast pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, or loss of consciousness, call 911 right away. Move them to a cooler place and cover them with cool cloths until help arrives.

“Prevention is key,” says MCHS – Dickinson Pediatrician, Dr. Michael Carpenter. “Make sure your kids take frequent water breaks — and of course, don’t forget to apply SPF 30 sunscreen before heading out. Be sure to reapply it every two to three hours or after swimming.”

Swimming. A child can drown in seconds—sometimes without a sound. According to the CDC, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death among kids aged 14 and younger. Teach your child the differences between swimming in a pool and in open water. Even if your child knows how to swim, actively watch them when in and around the water. A great old rule is the “buddy system”. Always swim in pairs and never alone.

Boating. Most boating accidents happen when the driver has been drinking — and 80% of people who drown in boating accidents weren’t wearing life jackets. Set a good example for your kids. Be sure every person on board wears a properly-fitted, Coast Guard-approved life jacket. And assign a designated sober driver, just as you would when driving a car.

Cars and bikes. Never leave a child alone in a car on a warm day without adult supervision. Dr. Carpenter notes, “Interior vehicle temperatures can rise to dangerous levels quickly, even on days that aren’t that hot. Double-check that everyone is accounted for before locking up.” Any time your child is on wheels be sure they’re wearing a properly fitted helmet. It’s their best defense against serious head injuries.

Playgrounds. According to the CDC, more than 200,000 children in the U.S. visit the ER for playground injuries each year. Dress your children for active play, in clothes and shoes with no long, dangling pieces. Steer them toward equipment that’s right for their age and skill level. And encourage them to use the equipment properly – no climbing up slides or jumping off swings.

Insect bites. As carriers of West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease, mosquitoes and ticks can be more than a mere annoyance. Apply insect repellant when outdoors. DEET is most effective, but Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus also work well. Cover arms and legs with light layers when you can. If your child experiences swelling, a rash, fever or fatigue, call us.

We now offer same-day and next-day appointments for our pediatric patients! The Children’s Care department at MCHS – Dickinson has the largest, most knowledgeable pediatrics team in the region. We’re the go-to source in the U.P. for kids’ healthcare. When summer illnesses or injuries happen, give us a call at 906-776-5800.

Michael Carpenter, MD is a member of the U.P.’s largest pediatrics team at MCHS – Dickinson. After graduating from the University of Utah, he served in the United States Air Force for eight years as a general pediatrician with overseas tours in Turkey and England, and at the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs. Before joining MCHS – Dickinson, Dr. Carpenter was serving patients at the Mountain View Medical Group. Board Certified by the American Academy of Pediatricians, Dr. Carpenter is at the Dickinson Primary Care Clinic at 1711 S Stephenson Ave., Suite 210 in Iron Mountain.