Injured While Exploring The Great Outdoors
Ah, summer fun. Well, mostly fun. Occasionally, there is also a bump, bruise, or bug bite along the way.
One of my friend’s kiddos has always been an adventurer. His mother recalls that at 12 months of age, one of Christopher’s favorite pastimes was “stage diving” off the couch cushions. Moving from the couch to the backyard and beyond, it was innocent play that recently landed Christopher’s head on the concrete one spring day. As you can imagine, it’s a sight a parent never wants to see.
In moments like these you never want to question if you did the right thing by seeking medical attention, or not. It was at this moment that this family headed off to their first emergency room visit. Luckily, Christopher’s wound required minimal treatment and within a short time, he was back to his adventures.
Let’s face it, accidents happen. And, during summer fun and a child’s outdoor discoveries they seem to happen more often.
As a parent, how do you know when an injury is minor or your child needs further medical treatment?
Here are a few guidelines to help keep your kiddo healthy during their summer adventures:
*Minor abrasions simply need to be cleansed well with water and may need a few days of antibiotic ointment. A gaping wound may need to be looked at to see if steri-strips or sutures are needed, but be sure to do this as soon as possible because sutures cannot be put in if too much time has elapsed (usually more than 6-8 hours depending on the site).
*Head injuries like Christopher’s? These are especially complicated because care depends on the age of the child, what part of the head was injured, and the type of injury. Anytime a child loses consciousness, he needs to be taken to the emergency room immediately. Vomiting, visual changes, and altered mental status are also worrisome signs. Small bumps to the head after which a child is acting normal and skin has not been broken need to be iced and monitored.
*Scraped knees? Split lip? Both will benefit from rinsing with a water bottle. As for splinters? These can most often be easily taken out with fine tip tweezers, followed by a cleaning with an alcohol-based wipe.
*Bug bite? Swelling, redness and warmth need to be monitored. If there is a stinger, it needs to be taken out immediately and the area needs to be cleaned. The child should be given a weight and age appropriate dose of oral Benadryl to decrease the reaction to the insect toxin. If the area of redness, warmth or swelling seems to be getting larger, the child needs to be seen. Sometimes it helps to make a circle around the initial area of redness with a pen to monitor it.
How to best prepare for summer "fun"?
Purchase or put together a first aid kit that can be taken with your family on the go. It doesn’t have to be equipped with the fanciest of things. In fact, simply having access to supplies used for cleaning is the most important (like a water bottle). Additionally, non- alcohol based cleaning cloths are also helpful, though certainly unscented baby wipes also will work.
Other first aid-essentials? Antibiotic ointment, Band-Aids, and bandages of various sizes.
When it comes to children and injuries obtained in the great outdoors, it’s better to err on the side of caution when deciding if further treatment is needed, or not. Exploration of the outdoors reaps many rewards when it comes to family fun and childhood learning and joy.
As a parent, you simply do your best and prepare for the accident that may be waiting to happen while enjoying the ride along the way.
Wishing you much summer fun!