Q&A: Summer Safety with Lee Wilbur, MD

summer safety

The weather is warmer and kids and families are heading outside. We are seeing quite a few pool and swimming injuries. Water may be fun for children to play with — but it can also be deadly.

Dr. Lee Wilbur with the CHI St. Vincent Emergency Department talks about the types of injuries children are at risk for now that they're out of school.

Do you have some tips for parents or caregivers?

  1. Keep children under active supervision at all times. Stay in arm’s reach of young kids.

  2. Designate a responsible person to watch the water when people are in the pool—never allow anyone to swim alone.

  3. Have young or inexperienced swimmers wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

  4. Secure your pool with appropriate barriers. Completely surround your pool with a 4-feet high fence or barrier with a self-closing, self-latching gate.

  5. Place a safety cover on the pool or hot tub when not in use and remove any ladders or steps used for access.

  6. Teach children to swim. Most children can learn to swim at about age 5 — but know that swimming lessons won't necessarily prevent a child from drowning.

  7. Don't leave pool toys in the water. A child might fall into the water while trying to retrieve a toy.

We know it isn’t just pools and water parents need to look out for. What other injuries are you guys seeing?

Recently, we’ve seen some injuries from biking and skating. While these can be very fun sports for kids, they can also be very dangerous ones. I suggest all children (and adults!) wear protective gear – helmets, elbow pads, knee pads.

When it comes to skating, be sure to visit local skating rinks or recreation centers and sign your child up for basic skating skills classes, which will include basic skills including how to stop and skating safety.

Help small skaters, cyclists and everyone in your family understand traffic safety and the rules of the road - even though they won't be skating near traffic.

Watch for and avoid road hazards. Be on the lookout for hazards such as potholes, broken glass, gravel, puddles, leaves, and dogs. All these hazards can cause a painful crash.

Another piece of advice I have is to avoid riding or skating at night. If you have to ride or skate at night, wear something that makes you more easily seen by others. For cycling, make sure you have reflectors on the front and rear of your bicycle (white lights on the front and red rear reflectors are required by law in many States), in addition to reflectors on your tires, so others can see you.

What about hiking?

We do see some injuries from hiking. It’s very important to wear the proper shoes and gear. Also, you must stay hydrated. When you are outdoors this summer, you cannot drink enough water.

And don’t forget your insect repellent. I know this has been a hot button issue this summer. Here in Arkansas, ticks are responsible for a variety of illnesses including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. These diseases can be very serious.

On a final note, and I can’t stress this enough: Wear sunscreen. Sunscreen is a must (on sunny and cloudy days)! Look for products with UVA and UVB protection and an SPF of at least 15 (according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Association of Dermatology).

Sunscreen should be applied liberally 30 minutes before going out in the sun, and reapplied every two hours or sooner if swimming, sweating or toweling off.

If you have any emergencies this summer, please go to the emergency room.