Emmanuel J. Eusebio, MD

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Tips When Heading Outdoors with Kids

As published in the Wedgwood View

With this gorgeous summer weather beckoning everyone in the family outside, it is a good time to review and prepare for any injuries or illness you may encounter in your adventures.

Here are some of the challenges you might face and some tips to get you through them:

Ankle sprains: With running children and uneven terrain, there is always the possibility that someone will twist their ankle. Prevention is the best strategy, so well-fitting footwear with ankle support and fresh treads can head off a number of slips and spills. Also, ensure your child’s laces are tied or Velcro straps are closed. If your child does twist an ankle, it is important to have them sit down and apply a compression wrap right away in order to minimize swelling. Ice or a cold pack applied quickly can help a lot too. As soon as you can, get them off the field or trail and sit them down for some rest. If they can’t walk at least four steps, it would be prudent to have X-rays taken at a nearby emergency room or urgent care facility.

Sunburns: With more time spent outside, it is really easy to get too much sun. This can happen even more quickly when you are near reflective surfaces like water and sometimes unexpectedly on overcast days. Early signs of redness and skin warmth can be treated by going indoors, taking a cool bath and applying aloe vera to the burns. If the sunburn causes blisters, fever, chills, headache or a general feeling of sickness, consult your pediatrician. If the blisters burst, apply an antibacterial ointment like Neosporin. Once again, prevention is the best option, so apply a good sunscreen (at least SPF 15-30) and wear sun-protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.

Insect bites: We share the outdoors with lots of bugs, and sometimes they bite. Usually, a small wheal will form at the site of a mosquito bite; it will heal more quickly if you can prevent your child from scratching. If the itching is really bothersome, try applying hydrocortisone cream twice a day to the lesion, and consider a weight-appropriate dose of oral Benadryl, an antihistamine. Insect repellents and mosquito netting are great ways to avoid getting bit in the first place, so bringing these items along on a campout, hike or other outdoor adventure is a really smart idea.

Bee stings: Bees are great for the environment, but sometimes they sting. If your child is stung, try to quickly scrape the stinger out with a credit card or your fingernail. Be sure not to squeeze, or more venom may be injected. Washing the sting with soap and water, and then applying ice will prevent infection and ease the pain. If your or your child experience any problems with breathing, vomiting or signs of shock, call 911 and get to the hospital immediately.

By knowing the potential challenges of outdoor summer fun, you can prepare before your family to ensure everyone remains safe and healthy on the trip. I hope these tips help you have an awesome time outdoors!

Emmanuel (Manny) Eusebio, MD, is a pediatrician at PacMed Northgate. To learn more or make an appointment, visit his web page.