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Kids and Summer Dangers

Poison ivy, sunburn, and scooter accidents can ruin summer fun for children. The Saturday Early Show shares tips on how to keep the season safe.

It's the most dangerous time of year for kids who are out of school and lack adult supervision, according to the National Safe Kids Campaign. The group's new study predicts children will be rushed to emergency rooms nearly 3 million times in the next few months.

Dr. Jordan Metzl, a CBS News health contributor, talks with the Saturday Early Show about keeping children out of harm's way and shared advice on handling emergencies.

Head injuries can be prevented, Metzl says, and the number 1 way to prevent a head injury is to wear a helmet. Whether your child is riding a bike or scooter, they must wear a helmet. In the first 10 months of last year, more than 27,000 people were treated in emergency rooms for scooter-related injuries--and most of those hurt were under age 15.

Bike helmets do work, Metzl notes: A study on bicycle accidents conducted in Australia last year found they were 85% effective in preventing riders from losing consciousness.

The most common head injury among active children is a concussion or brain bruise. A child with a minor concussion will be dazed and glassy-eyed. In this case, call your doctor. A child with a major concussion will be knocked unconscious. If that happens, go to the emergency room immediately.

Sunburn is another summer danger, says Metzl.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer, but it is an easily preventable disease as long as you take the right precautions and avoid getting sunburned.

In Australia, which has the highest skin cancer rates in the world, they have instituted a nationwide program to prevent sunburns that Americans may find useful. It's called Slip, Slop, Slap. Before a child goes outside he or she should SLIP on a shirt, SLOP on some sunscreen, and SLAP on a hat.

There are several sunscreens made especially for children. Most are waterproof. The sun protection factor or SPF must be at least 15.

When applying sunscreen to a child, it is important to cover every part of the body that is exposed to the sun. That includes the ears and back of the neck, which are often overlooked.

If a child does get sunburned, you'll want to use a cool compress and apply aloe vera to the area. Aloe vera not only soothes the pain but also starts the healing process. You may also want to consider giving the child an over-the-counter pain reliever.

Poison ivy can turn summer vacation uncomfortable if children don't know how to avoid the pesky plant. Poison ivy plants have three green, shiny leaves per cluster. A good expression you may want to teach your child is, "Leaves of three, leave them be."

The symptoms of poison ivy exposure are thick, itchy, dry, red patches of skin. To ease the symptoms, first wash the area with cold water and then gve the child an oatmeal bath. The bath should last no longer than a half an hour so the skin won't lose too many of the oils needed to heal.

The next step is to apply a calamine lotion such as Caladryl, which contains an antihistamine to relieve the itching. Calamine lotion will also help dry up and begin healing the affected area.

Bee stings can be very serious, especially if a child has a severe allergic reaction, which is called anaphylactic shock, Metzl says. Symptoms include wheezing, trouble breathing, rapid heartbeat, nausea, or loss of consciousness. If a child exhibits any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

If you know your child is allergic to bee stings, you should keep a prescription EpiPen handy. The container looks a bit like a pen, and it contains the drug epinephrine, which counters severe allergic reactions. For a child with a more minor reaction, an antihistamine may help with the inflammation.
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