How to Stay Safe This Summer: Answers to FAQs from Dr. Stephen Johnson

Summer is just around the corner—it’s almost time to put the homework away and play. With the great weather comes outside play and fun—but also a few potential common ailments and injuries. We sat down with Dr. Stephen Johnson, a Family Medicine Physician with Little Company of Mary’s Medical Group, to learn more about preventing and caring for injuries and ailments. His number one advice to avoid injury and stay safe? “It is important to wear proper protective equipment while playing. Kids should wear helmets for baseball, softball, hockey, riding bicycles, riding scooters, riding skateboards, and inline skating,” said Dr. Johnson.

Here are Dr. Johnson’s answers to some of your frequently asked questions about summer health and safety.

1. What should you do if you have a tick?
Remove the tick as quickly as possible using fine-tipped tweezers. Grab the tick close to the skin’s surface and slowly pull away from the skin. Do not twist the tick as you pull it out. After you remove the tick wash the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Get rid of the tick by putting it in alcohol in a sealed bag or by flushing it down the toilet. If you develop a rash or fever after removing the tick, then see your doctor. Tell your doctor about the tick bite.
2. What should you do if you are stung by a bee?
-Watch for signs of an allergic reaction.
-Wash the area with soap and water.
-Take the stinger out by wiping over the area with gauze or by scraping the area with a fingernail. Do not use tweezers to remove the stinger and do not squeeze the stinger.
-Put ice over the area to decrease the swelling.
-Avoid scratching the area. Scratching the area may increase the risk of infection and it may make the swelling and itching worse.

3. What should you do if your child falls and is bleeding?
-Put pressure on the area to stop the bleeding.
-Use soap and water to clean the area.
-Put antibiotic ointment over the wound to decrease chances of infection.
-Call 911 if bleeding is severe, blood is spurting or bleeding does not stop after 10 minutes of applying pressure to affected area.
-Call your doctor if the cut is deep or if you are unable to clean the cut.
4. What should you do if your child falls and you suspect a broken bone?
-If you think that the broken bone may be in the child’s neck or back then do not move the child unless it is necessary for the child’s safety. Call 911.
-If you see the bone coming through the skin then call 911. If there is severe bleeding then apply pressure onto the affected area with a clean piece of cloth.
-If you think that the broken bone is in a limb and you need to move the child then try to apply a splint around the limb before doing so. You can use rolled up newspaper, a stack of newspapers, cardboard or anything else that is firm for the splint. Apply the splint around, above, and below the injured area.
-Put cold packs on the injured area.
-Have the child lay down until paramedics arrive. If child becomes lightheaded, try to bring child’s head below the child’s chest. Elevate the feet 12 inches above the head if possible.
5. What should you do if you suspect a concussion?
If you suspect a concussion then you should either call your doctor or call 911. If the person with the possible concussion has any of the following symptoms then call 911:
-worsening headache
-weakness, numbness, and/or decreased coordination
-nausea and/or vomiting
-slurred speech
-drowsy or unresponsive
-pupils are not the same size
-convulsions or seizures
-cannot recognize people or places
-increasing confusion, restlessness, and/or agitation
-acting abnormally
-loss of consciousness
-child who will not stop crying
-child who will not nurse or eat
6. What is the best remedy for a painful sunburn?
-Apply cool water to the area by taking a shower or bath or by placing a wet rag on the sunburn.
-Avoid using products with benzocaine or lidocaine because they can cause allergic reactions.
-Place dry bandages over any blisters.
-If there is no blistering then apply moisturizing cream to affected area. Do not use butter, petroleum jelly or other oil-based products.
-Use Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen for pain as needed.
-Use hydrocortisone cream as needed.
-Wear loose cotton clothing.
7. What is the best remedy for poison ivy?
-Wash the affected area with soap and warm water as soon as possible after the exposure.
-Clean under fingernails by scrubbing with a brush to keep plant oil from spreading.
-Wash clothes and shoes with soap and hot water.
-Try to keep body cool by using cold compresses.
-Use Calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream as needed for itching and blistering.
-Oatmeal bath products and Aluminum acetate (Domeboro) soaks may help with itching.
-Use antihistamines as needed for itching.
-Wash any objects that may have been exposed to poison ivy with rubbing alcohol or dilute bleach solution.
-Bathe pets that may have been exposed to poison ivy.
8. How much water should you drink to avoid dehydration?
-Drink 17-20 ounces of water 2-3 hours before you start exercising.
-Drink 8 ounces of fluid 20-30 minutes before you start exercising.
-Drink 7-10 ounces of fluid every 10-20 minutes during exercise.
-Drink 8 ounces of fluid within a half hour of completing exercise.
-Drink 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight that was lost during exercise.

Stay safe, and have a great summer!

Learn more about Dr. Stephen Johnson.

If you’d like to make an appointment to visit Dr. Johnson (4901 West 79th St., Suite 10, Burbank, IL), call 708-422-7100.

Photo courtesy of Samson Loo via Flickr.

Copyright ©. Little Company of Mary Hospital and Healthcare Centers