Tips From the Doc
Keeping your kids active and safe outdoors
Spring and summer are when children are most active outside. Parents can’t supervise all their running around, but there are ways to keep them healthy and safe during their outdoor adventures. Here are some tips from Dr. Jorge Quinonez, a pediatrician with the Family Health Centers of Southwest Florida.
• Children should always wear a helmet when riding. Check that it has a CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) sticker.
• Make sure your child rides a properly sized bicycle. Have him or her stand while straddling the top bar so that both feet are on the ground. There should be a 1- to 3-inch space between your child and the top bar.
• Get your child’s bike checked out by the local bicycle shop. They can inspect brakes, bike chain and tires, and ensure all the nuts and bolts are tightened and fastened correctly.
• Children should always wear close-toed shoes, and avoid sandals, flip-flops, shoes with heels, and riding barefoot.
• Don’t let your child wear headphones while riding as music can block noise from cars and traffic.
• Encourage them to use bicycle lanes whenever possible. Children younger than age 10 should avoid street riding and stick to sidewalks.
• Teach your child basic bike safety; for example, ride on the right side in the same direction as cars, keep both hands on the handlebar, and walk bikes across busy intersections.
• Teach them to use hand turning signals:
o Left turn: Left arm straight out
o Right turn: Left arm up bent at elbow or right arm extended straight out
o Stopping: Left arm down and bent at the elbow
Swimming & Boating
• Do not allow children to swim without adult supervision.
• Enroll your kid in swimming lessons. (They can begin as early as 1 year of age.)
• Always have children younger than age 13 wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket while inside a boat and make sure it fits snuggly.
• Babies should not ride on boats until they weigh enough to wear their own flotation device.
• Don’t rely on items like noodles and water wings as proper flotation safety.
• Ensure there is a carbon monoxide detector aboard the boat, so you can detect potential toxic fumes emanating from the engine.
• Prevent mosquito breeding grounds by removing standing water from buckets, pots and kiddie pools around the home.
• Try to avoid being outside during the dawn and dusk hours, which are mosquitoes’ peak feeding times. If your kids are outdoors during this time, dress them in light-colored clothing with long sleeves. (Dark and bright clothing attract mosquitoes.) Also, have them wear closed-toe shoes and tuck their pants inside their socks.
• Use mosquito repellent. There are two main repellent products—deet and a newer product called picaridin. They both are approved for ages 2 months and older.
• Make sure DEET products have less than 30% in concentration. (A higher level does not mean it is stronger only that it will last longer.) Picaridin products are best for children with sensitive skin.
• For babies younger than 2 months, use netting and avoid exposure as much as possible.
• Outside fans and citronella candles (a natural mosquito repellent) are other ways to shun mosquitoes.
• If you child is bitten, wash the area with soap and water, and cover with calamine lotion or over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream. You also can apply cold compresses to the bite.
• If you see significant redness and swelling after a few days, seek medical attention as they may indicate an infection.
Cuts & Scrapes
• Wash your hands before you help your child. Preventing the wound from getting infected is your top priority.
• Avoid blowing on the abrasion as this can cause germs to grow.
• Apply pressure with sterile gauze or a clean cloth for several minutes to stop any bleeding.
• If the wound is covered in dirt or grit, clean a pair of tweezers with rubbing alcohol or boiling water and use them to pick out the debris.
• Hold the area gently under cool running water, but do not scrub the wound. You can also use bottled water or a saline wound spray to clean the wound. Don’t use alcohol, iodine, Mercurochrome, hydrogen peroxide, or similar agents. They can cause pain and irritation and not clean the wound.
• Apply an antiseptic lotion or cream over the area and cover with an adhesive bandage or gauze pad until a scab has formed then leave it open to the air.
• Check the bandaged area each day and keep it clean and dry.