During the summer months, with the end of the school year and the start of vacation, there is a sharp increase in injuries among children and youth, mostly due to dehydration, drowning, and falls from heights, bicycles and scooters. Schneider Children’s experts offer tips how to pass the summer vacation safely and without gaining weight.
Prof. Yehezkel Waisman, Director of the Emergency Medicine Department at Schneider Children’s, notes that it is important to ensure protection against the sun, maintain the rules of safety during typical summer vacation activities, and use safety and protective gear against the dangers of summer:
Dehydration is a dynamic process, which if left untreated, can affect functioning of the body's vital systems. The symptoms of dehydration are a dry mouth, minimal urine production, restlessness and tearless crying. Other indicators that can appear are headaches, confusion, dizziness and even loss of consciousness in extreme cases. In every case where dehydration is suspected, water should be given and medical care sought at the nearest first aid station or ER. An ambulance should be summoned if there is loss of consciousness.
At every outing to the beach, pool or nature, a hat must be worn for protection against sunstroke and sunscreen applied to the skin which should be covered with clothing. One should refrain from exposure to the sun between 10am to 5pm when radiation is at its peak.
Riding a Motorized or Standard Bike or Scooter:
A safety helmet and protective pads must be worn on the elbows and knees when riding a bike, scooter or rollerblades. The helmet is the most effective means of protection against head injuries. Riders should only use designated bicycle lanes, and not busy roads.
Danger of Drowning:
Children under the age of 5 must be closely supervised at the beach or pool. Water wings even for older children must be worn if the child does not know how to swim. The child, whatever his age, must remain in sight. Swimming pools in private homes must be fenced in to prevent accidental drowning of small children. Swimming is an important skill for children and lessons are recommended from the age of 5 depending on the child’s readiness.
In spite of the pain caused by the sting of a jellyfish, the sting is generally not dangerous. Nonetheless, in order to remove any fluid residue from the sting on the skin, rather than rubbing the affected area, it is better to wash the entire body in sea water. An analgesic cream can be applied afterwards. Medical attention should be sought if there is any weakness or if large blisters appear over a significant area of the skin.
If a child is stung by a bee or a wasp, try to scrape off the sting from the skin. Do not try to pull out the sting but rather scrape it off. Immediate medical attention should be sought if there is an allergic reaction such as shortness of breath, difficulty in swallowing, or swelling on the face or lips. In the event of a snake bite, the child should be taken without delay to the nearest hospital.
Falls from Heights:
Climbing apparatus and furniture such as couches, beds and chests of drawers should be moved away from windows while children should not be allowed to play on rooftops or porches unless there is adult supervision. Similarly, bars should also be installed on windows on high floors.
Dafna Ziv Busani, clinical dietician in the Nutrition and Dietary Unit at Schneider Children’s, notes that during the summer vacation, many children and teenagers spend their time in front of the TV and computer, and can put on weight due to boredom eating and little physical activity. Tips include:
Planning Meals and Activities:
We suggest that a proper schedule be arranged together with the child for weekly meals of his preferences, while limiting certain foods such as chips, sausages and snacks, and encouraging a wider selection of vegetables. This should be done at the beginning of the vacation with set rules and limits about eating at home. Meals should be eaten properly at the table and not opposite the TV or the computer.
During vacation, no time is usually set aside for physical activity as part of a class or other framework like during the school year. Everyone gains doing this type of activity, both parents and children alike, so time to do so should be planned. The type of activity, whether swimming or learning to swim, or at a playground with sports elements, can be chosen to suit each family. Care should be taken to abide by all safety regulations.
Drinking water is crucial. Water quenches thirst, has no calories, and is healthy for the body and teeth. At least 6-8 glasses of water should be consumed each day. Smaller children should be encouraged to drink all the contents of their water bottles. If sufficient water has been consumed, the color of urine should be a clear, pale yellow.
Take ready-to-eat sliced fruit and vegetables, crackers or sandwiches and drinks on an outing to reduce the temptation to buy more expensive and more fattening foods. Water is the best drink – everyone should have their own water bottle – while children must be told about the importance of drinking water.
Most elementary school-age children will spend at least the first half of their summer vacation in summer camps. Check what is served to the children for breakfast and if a sandwich, there should be a selection of spreads. Do not settle for a roll with chocolate spread each day, rather ask that there be other spreads such as cheese or techina. This is especially important when children stay in summer camp until 4pm, in which case ask to check the menu offered at lunch.