summer safety
Health and safety

Complete guide to summer safety

If you are lucky enough to catch some rays and get out and about with your family this summer, read up on ways to make your days in the sun safe as well as fun.

Summertime high jinks and holiday activities often bring scrapes and bruises, sun burn – or worse. Here are simple things you can do to ensure that your children’s summer fun involves minimal risk – it’s our complete guide to summer safety.

Lock away chemicals and medications

Regular household products such as as laundry detergent or oven cleaner can be poisonous for curious kids at home. Also, lock up medications; most kids are tempted by pill bottles. This might mean a locked cabinet in the house. Never transfer household chemicals such as bleach into soda bottles or containers that might be mistaken as a refreshment.

Cuts and scrapes

What to do

Using a clean cloth, apply direct pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding. Flush the wound with water to remove any dirt or debris, apply antibiotic ointment, and dress with gauze pads held in place by medical tape — or cover with a plastic bandage.

When to see a doctor

  • If the abrasion is deep and doesn’t stop bleeding, even when you apply firm pressure
  • If there’s a lot of dirt, gravel or pieces of wood, metal or glass in the abrasion
  • If it’s a large abrasion with rough or jagged edges
  • If you’re unsure whether your child is up to date with his tetanus immunisation.
  • Also, consult a doctor any time your child has been bitten by an animal.

Sprains and broken bones

What to do

If your child broke a bone, he may not be able to move that part of his body without pain. Do not move a child whose injury involves the neck or back, unless he or she is in imminent danger. Movement can cause serious nerve damage. If a child has an open break (bone protrudes through the skin) call emergency services immediately. If he can move the injured limb or joint, he’s probably suffered a sprain or strain, in which case you should wrap the ankle or wrist tightly in an elastic bandage or rolled gauze to compress the swelling.

First aid for sprains and strains includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation (known as RICE).

  • Rest: for at least 24 hours, rest the injured part of the body.
  • Ice packs (or cold compresses): apply for up to 10-15 minutes at a time every few hours for the first 2 days to prevent swelling.
  • Compression: wear an elastic bandage (such as an ACE bandage) for at least two days to reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: keep the injured part above heart level as much as possible to ease swelling.

When to see a doctor

If your child cannot stand, complains of tingling or numbness, or his foot or ankle is swollen or discoloured, he could have a broken bone or a more serious sprain. Keep his weight off the injury and visit the ER immediately. A broken bone requires emergency medical care. Your child might have a broken (fractured) bone if he or she heard or felt a bone snap, has difficulty moving the injured part, or if the injured part moves in an unnatural way or is very painful to the touch.

Handling bee and wasp stings

A bee will usually leave behind a stinger attached to a venom sac. Try to remove it as quickly as possible using a scraping motion, without pinching the venom sac at the end. (Wasps don’t leave their stingers in the skin after stinging, which means they can sting more than once.)

What to do

Wash the area carefully with soap and water. Do this two to three times a day until the skin is healed. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a cloth or a cold, wet washcloth for a few minutes.

For pain and itching, give an over-the-counter oral antihistamine if your child’s doctor says it’s okay; follow dosage instructions for your child’s age and weight. You could also apply a corticosteroid cream or calamine lotion to the sting area.

When to see a doctor

A sting anywhere in the mouth needs immediate medical attention because stings in oral mucous membranes can quickly cause severe swelling that may block airways.

Seek medical care if you notice a large skin rash or swelling around the sting site, or if swelling or pain persists for more than three days, which could indicate an infection. The following signs may indicate a serious or potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Use an epinephrine auto-injector if it’s available, and call 999 right away if you notice:

  • wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • tightness in throat or chest
  • swelling of the lips, tongue, or face
  • dizziness or fainting
  • nausea or vomiting

Complete guide to summer safety

Dr Caroline Dore Geraghty is a medical doctor with a special interest in allergy and dermatology. She holds a diploma in Dermatology and a Masters in Allergy.

 

Summer time allergies

Hayfever is a seasonal allergic reaction to pollen and it affects approximately 18% of children. Most commonly when people complain of hayfever symptoms the main causative agents are pollens from trees and grasses. The season can therefore last from March to September depending on the allergen.

The common symptoms include:

stuffy or watery nose, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, headaches, tiredness and a general feeling of congestion. A child may be constantly wiping their nose, have dark circles under their eyes, complain of a tickly throat, be more irritable or tired and cough.

Hayfever symptoms if left untreated can lead to more serious problems like sinus infections, ear infections, even pneumonia and it is worth knowing that it is a risk factor for developing asthma later on in life.

Firstly, it is important to know that it is actually hayfever that you or your child is suffering from and this should be diagnosed by a medical professional who is familiar with the presentation and treatment of allergic disease. The cornerstone of treatment in allergy is avoiding the trigger, however, it is very hard to avoid pollen especially in the summer months when it is all around us.

Once diagnosed with hayfever there are a number of treatments options available:

1. Nasal douching helps to remove the pollens from the nasal passageways, these can be bought over the counter in your local pharmacy.

2. If suggested by your doctor the use of non- sedating oral anti histamines or low-dose intra nasal steroid sprays, these can be used as stand alone treatments or in combination, depending on the severity of your hayfever.

3. If symptoms are severe there is a desensitisation treatment available, this needs to be prescribed under the supervision of a medical doctor trained in allergies.

The following tips will help to minimise you or your child’s exposure to pollen:

  1. Dry clothes indoors.
  2. Have a shower once you have come indoors at the end of the day.
  3. Wear wrap around sunglasses to protect your eyes.
  4. Where possible on days when the pollen forecast is high, head for coastal areas.
  5. Look at the pollen forecast daily and be aware you may need to take extra medication on days where the pollen count is very high.
  6. Close windows.
  7. Make sure the pollen filter in your car is on.

Food allergies

If you or a loved one suffers from food allergies this can be a challenging time. When packing for your summer vacation always ensure that you have the medication you or your child needs, do not leave this to chance. It is also a good idea if you are travelling to a foreign country where a different language is spoken to try and translate the phrase “I have a food allergy to ……”. There is a good website www.selectwisely.com where you can order food allergy cards which are translated into different languages. Always remember to carry your adrenaline pen, antihistamines and inhalers in your carry on luggage and alert the flight crew if you suffer from a severe food allergy.

Dr Caroline Dore Geraghty is a medical doctor with a special interest in allergy and dermatology. She holds a diploma in Dermatology and a Masters in Allergy

See our complete guide to sun protection

More like this:

Tackling summer allergies
First aid essentials
All you need to know about sun safety

Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

A
In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.

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Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

A
In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.