Summer is here

Kirk Coverston, MDSummertime is here, and all the fabulous activities, family times and fun with our children being home from school have already begun.  Many of these activities include the sun, water and outdoor exposure, so keeping our children healthy during the summer is very important.

What should we be aware of?  Safety! I have seen so many accidents and injuries that could have been prevented if only small steps were taken.

  • Water safety – Drownings are a leading cause of injury death for children ages 1-14. Parents play a key role in protecting their children by following these tips.
    • Learn CPR and know how to swim, plus teach your children how to swim early.
    • If you have a pool, or live near a pool, make sure it is fenced off if you have children that don’t know how to swim yet or are weak swimmers.
    • Make life jackets a MUST for all swimmers, especially in lakes and the ocean, regardless of swimming ability. 
    • Always be on the lookout. When around a pool, especially during a gathering, it is easy to take your eyes off younger children, even for a second.  Make sure everyone has their eyes on the pool, or designate people to take turns to avoid an accident.
  • Water infections – Protect your whole family from germs in the water!
    • Swimmer’s Ear. This is an infection of the outer ear canal that usually appears within a few days of swimming, a result of water staying in the ear canal. Symptoms include itchiness inside the ear; redness and swelling of the ear; pain when the ear is tugged or with pressure; and pus draining from the ear.
    • How to avoid. Keep ears as dry as possible to start with and dry thoroughly with a towel when you get out of the water.
    • See your doctor if pain, discomfort or drainage occurs.
    • Four easy steps to keep germs out of the water!
    • Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea
    • Shower before you get in the water
    • Don’t pee or poop in the water. Swim diapers are a must!
    • Don’t swallow the water
  • Heat-related illness happens when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. Infants and children up to 4 years of age are at greatest risk. Even young, healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. For heat-related illness, the best defense is prevention.
  • Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
  • Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully, for morning and evening hours.
  • Stay cool with cool showers or baths.
  • Seek medical care immediately if your child has symptoms of headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, weakness, mood changes, irritability or confusion, feeling sick to the stomach, vomiting, fainting, pale and/or clammy skin.
  • Sunburns can increase the risk of skin cancer later in life. Your child’s skin needs protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they're outdoors.
  • Cover up. Clothing that covers your child's skin helps protect against UV rays.
  • Use sunscreen with at least SPF (sun protection factor) 15 and UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) protection every time you and your child go outside.

I am sure you are all aware of this, but in my 15 years of practice, I have seen too many accidents and drownings that could have been prevented. So please be so careful. I find many accidents and drowning occur when you’re outside at your own home and at pool parties when the adults are distracted. Have a safe and healthy summer.


(Kirk D. Coverston M.D. is a Board-certified pediatrician who practices at Visalia Medical Clinic. His practice covers all general pediatrics, from newborns to adolescence, with a special interest in behavioral pediatrics and ADHD.)