By Gail Belsky
From Your Family Today
Having fun in the sun can pose serious health risks for kids -- especially if you haven't taken the necessary precautions. But with a little knowledge, you can help keep your family safe all summer long. Here's what you need to know to be prepared to handle some of the most common summer health hazards.
Summer Safety Risk No. 1: Heat Exhaustion
When kids are exposed to heat for extended periods of time, their bodies can get overheated. Sweating helps cool them down, but if you don't replace the fluids they've lost, they may get sick and even develop heatstroke, a life-threatening condition.
Kids drink only half the amount of water they need, and three-fourths of parents don't know how to prevent their kids from getting dehydrated, according to the Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. The signs of heat exhaustion in kids are dizziness, stomach or leg cramps, flushed cheeks, irritability and fainting.
Summer Safety Risk No. 2: Sunburn
It takes as little as 15 minutes for the sun's UV rays to burn unprotected skin, and once they do, there's no way to reverse the effects, according to the National Institutes of Health. Sunburn symptoms include redness, pain, blisters, fever, chills, weakness and swollen skin.
Kids who are fair tend to burn faster than those with darker hair and skin, but all children are at risk if they're not adequately protected. In addition to the short-term symptoms, childhood sunburn can lead to serious long-term conditions, including skin cancer.
Summer Safety Risk No. 3: Water Submersion and Drowning
Drowning is the second leading cause of death among kids 14 and younger. And for every child who dies, four more are treated in emergency rooms for near-drowning injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than half of these cases require hospitalization or higher-level care, and some result in brain damage and disabilities.
By taking the proper precautions, you can help insure a safe, happy and healthy summer for your entire family.
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