Summer safety tips: What a local doctor says you need to know

Health

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Americans are expected to take more vacation time this year than 2020, so doctors are urging caregivers, parents and their children to remain vigilant.

Before summer got its official start in late June, both Massachusetts and Rhode Island had their share of tragic drownings. Most recently, the bodies of a 10-year-old girl and the 35-year-old man who dove in trying to save her were pulled from the water by Conimicut Point Beach in Warwick.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drownings are a leading cause of injury and death for children under 15.

“Drowning isn’t like you see in the movies. There is often not a lot of splashing or crying for help,” Dr. Mark Zonfrillo, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, told 12 News.

Zonfrillo says parents of young children should never leave them more than an arm’s length away when near or in the water.

“Even for older children who may have some stronger swimming skills, and you may be at a beach or pool that’s even lifeguarded, you also want constant adult supervision,” he added.

While at the beach or the pool, Zonfrillo also recommends wearing a hat and applying lip balm and SPF 30 or higher sunscreen at least 15 minutes prior to going outside, and reapplying throughout the day.

“Understanding the UV index and its maximal sort of impact throughout the day is particularly important,” he said.

Regardless of how hot it is outside, Zonfrillo also warns drivers to never leave a child alone in a car, which can climb to temperatures over 100 degrees in just minutes. Zonfrillo says doing so could cause irreversible damage to the organs, coma or even death.

On average, nearly 40 children die in hot cars every year in the U.S., according to the National Safety Council.

Precautions are advised to continue, even for something as simple as playing outdoors or a hike in the woods.

“We have been sort of seeing an uptick in the presence of ticks, pun intended,” Zonfrillo said.

Zonfrillo recommends doing regular tick checks, and if one becomes attached to you, to try to find fine tip tweezers to grasp it.

“You want to try to grasp it as close to the skin surface as possible, and you want to pull straight up with kind of a steady motion,” he explained.

If a tick has been attached for more than 24 hours, Zonfrillo says to get to a doctor to be evaluated for Lyme disease.

With the Fourth of July coming up, the doctor is also cautioning those who may be planning at-home fireworks celebrations to instead leave it up to the professionals.

Zonfrillo says the most common injuries from fireworks are to hands, head, legs and arms, which sometimes result in a partial or full amputation.

Even sparklers are dangerous, as they can reach temperatures of about 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals.

As the pandemic continues, Zonfrillo is reminding parents and kids who are not yet vaccinated to continue following CDC guidelines. Right now, kids under 12 years old are still not eligible to receive the vaccine.

Zonfrillo also recommends keeping a first-aid kit with bandages, gauze, antibiotic ointment and Benadryl in the event of an allergic reaction.

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