As parents and caregivers, being aware of what you can do to prevent certain situations is key, but it pays to know what to do in potentially life-threatening scenarios. We have compiled a list of the top five dangers that are most commonly associated with the warmer weather.
Drowning is a serious risk associated with being around pools and the sea (but also relatively shallow water, so filled bath-tubs or kids pools). It can happen quickly and quietly, and children are particularly vulnerable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death for children between the ages of 1 and 4 years old.
To prevent drowning, it is important to supervise children at all times when they are around water. A designated "water watcher" should be appointed to keep a close eye on children who are swimming or playing in or around water. It is also important to ensure that pools are secured with appropriate fencing or covers and that children are taught about water safety, and how to swim at an early age.
In the event of a drowning emergency, knowing how to administer CPR can make all the difference.
And remember that babies can also drown in shallow pools of water or baths - so ALWAYS, ALWAYS SUPERVISE!
With temperatures soaring during the summer, babies and young children (and the elderly) are at an increased risk of heatstroke and dehydration. Heatstroke occurs when the body's temperature rises to dangerous levels, while dehydration is the loss of fluids and electrolytes from the body. Symptoms of heatstroke include a high body temperature, a rapid heartbeat, and rapid breathing. Signs of dehydration include a dry mouth, lethargy, and decreased urine output.
To prevent heatstroke and dehydration, it's important to keep babies and young children hydrated by offering them plenty of fluids, preferably water. Avoiding being outside during the hottest part of the day and staying in cool, shaded areas is vital.
Children's delicate skin is also particularly vulnerable to sunburn, which can lead to painful blisters and long-term damage to the skin. To prevent sunburn it is important to apply sunscreen with a high SPF regularly, and to dress children in protective clothing, such as hats and long-sleeved shirts. It's also important to ensure that children stay hydrated by offering them plenty of fluids, preferably water.
Moving a child or adult to a cool spot, removing excess clothing and cooling their bodies down by spraying or sponging with fresh water is essential if you notice heatstroke. Rehydrate them by offering water or a sports drink, and call 112 in case they're struggling to recover.
Summer is a time for picnics, barbecues, and outdoor activities, which means that children are more likely to come into contact with food and objects that can cause choking. Choking occurs when a foreign object, such as a piece of food or a toy, becomes lodged in the throat and blocks the airway. Symptoms of choking include difficulty breathing, coughing, and wheezing.
To prevent choking, keep small objects out of reach of babies and young children, and always supervise them when they are eating. In the event of choking, it is important to know how to administer first aid to clear the airway, with the techniques being different for babies, toddlers and older kids/adults. Immediately call emergency services whilst administering the choking manoevre, and be ready to move to CPR if the patient falls unconscious.
Insects like bees, wasps, and mosquitoes are common in the summer months and can pose a risk to children. Insect stings can cause discomfort, swelling, and in severe cases, allergic reactions. If a child experiences an insect sting, it is important to remove the stinger (keep tweezers always handy), clean the area with soap and water, and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling and pain.
Parents and caregivers should also be aware of the signs of an allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing or swelling of the face, and seek medical attention immediately if they occur. Our paediatric first aid course covers how to recognize and manage allergic reactions caused by insect stings, including the administration of epinephrine in severe cases.
Jellyfish are commonly found in the sea during the summer months, and their stings can cause pain, itching, and in rare cases, severe reactions. If a child is stung by a jellyfish, it is important to remove any tentacles with a pair of tweezers, scrape off any remaining tentacles with a credit card then wipe. Rinse the area with seawater, and apply vinegar and cold ice packs to neutralize the toxins and relieve the pain. Applying heat only in the case of specific species like sea snakes.
In severe cases, jellyfish stings can cause anaphylaxis or other life-threatening reactions, and immediate medical attention is necessary. Our paediatric first aid course covers how to recognize and manage jellyfish stings, including the administration of medication and other first aid techniques.
While giving first assistance is crucial, always call emergency services (112) to get advice or call an ambulance. Learning first aid is crucial to providing prompt and effective care to children who experience these emergencies.
Very often, your intervention will be crucial - the MyMama Paediatric First Aid course is not an add-on to a general first aid course, but covers all the essential first aid skills that parents and caregivers need to keep babies and children (and the rest of the family members) safe and healthy. Enroll today and ensure that you are prepared for any emergency that may arise this summer - visit www.mymama.mt/first-aid for more information and to book!