How to Build an Essential Summer First Aid Kit

Every year the summer arrives with full force in my ER: cuts, ticks, poison ivy, infected bug bites, sunburns, eye injuries, broken bones, and all other kinds of summer fun gone wrong. Luckily, you can easily treat or prevent much of the summer craziness if you are prepared.

Being prepared means you need a “Dr. Mom” first aid kit and know how to use it. Although pre-made store-bought first aid kits are a good start, these kits typically lack many items you’ll need for your family.
Shopping List for Your Summer First Aid Kit

So to help you get ready, I have prepared a shopping list below for your summer first aid kit. Get it built now, so that you spend your summer having fun, not in the ER.

  • Pre-made first aid kit: It’s cheapest and easiest to start by buying a pre-made kit, because otherwise it is difficult to find small packages of all the different kinds of gauze, tape, and antibiotic ointment you will need. Find a large kit with a sturdy container with extra space to hold all the things you will add to it. Or, get a small duffle bag or backpack to hold your first-aid kit, and start by putting the pre-made kit in the bag. Be sure the pre-made kit includes Band-Aids, gauze, tape, antibiotic ointment, and anti-itch or steroid ointment.
  • Water bottle for cleaning out wounds: The first thing you’ll need to do with a crying kid is clean out their wound. And the nearest water source is probably too far to walk. You can use your water bottle to treat dehydration, too.
  • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine): Benadryl is probably the most important over-the-counter medication to have in your first aid kit—it’s a first line treatment for insect bites, hives, and other allergic reactions that can be deadly. Some premade kits will include Benadryl tablets, but if you have young children be sure to include a bottle of liquid, Children’s Benadryl or the generic equivalent. Benadryl is also a great treatment for an attack of seasonal allergies.
  • EpiPen: If you have a family member with a history of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), ask your physician for a prescription. I keep mine in the outside pocket of my first aid kit for quick, easy access.
  • Numbing spray: Wound numbing spray can be purchased over-the-counter at any pharmacy and can really save-the-day when a child is burned, sunburned, or has a painful cut or scrape.
  • Prescription medication: Ask your physician for an extra prescription for any medication you use frequently, especially asthma and allergy medications. Keep the extra supply in your car first-aid kit. You’ll be grateful when you can stay at your child’s sporting event rather than head home for an inhaler or other medication.
  • Ibuprofen and Tylenol: Most pre-made kits include these standard pain medications, but you will have to add the liquid kind for children.
  • Dramamine, nausea medication: There’s an easy fix for vomiting, car sick kids—nausea medication. Don’t leave home without it. You’ll kick yourself for not having it while you clean the vomit out of your car.
  • Sunblock: The worst sunburns occur when you least expect it—at sports events, or while doing yard work. Have some 30+ sunblock ready to cover those little spots on your ears and neck that your hat doesn’t cover. Include some SPF lip balm or ChapStick, too.
  • Bug spray: The best protection comes from a repellant that contains 30% DEET. Insect bites are annoying at best, but at worst they get scratched and infected. We are seeing a growing number of insect bites that become infected with the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA, which is difficult to treat.
  • Afrin nasal spray for nosebleeds: Although I generally don’t recommend Afrin nasal spray for congestion related to allergies or illness, Afrin is a quick fix for a nosebleed. This medication causes the capillaries in the nose to constrict, thereby limiting the blood flow to the nasal mucosa and stopping the bleeding.
  • Hydrocortisone ointment: This inexpensive over-the-counter medication will treat almost anything that itches—insect bites, poison ivy, etc. If you stop the itch, the kids won’t scratch, and you reduce the risk of secondary infection.
  • Flashlight/headlamp: If you don’t have a reliable light on your cell phone, include an LED flashlight or headlamp. You can buy these very affordably now, even at the dollar store. A flashlight is not just for nighttime injuries—you’ll need a bright light to get a good look at splinters, or look in kids’ mouths, ears, etc.
  • Baby wipes: Even if your kids are out of diapers, a pack of baby wipes is infinitely useful in the car, especially for keeping hands clean and wiping noses.
  • ChapStick: ChapStick or lip balm can sooth cold sores, lip injuries, and sunburned lips in addition to regular chapped lips. You’ll be glad you have it when you child complains about their chapped lips for the sixth time in ten minutes while you are on a family outing.
  • Clean towel: A nice clean towel is perfect for setting up your first-aid station while you dress a wound or remove a splinter. It’s also useful for containing bleeding on bigger injuries. Consider a highly absorbent microfiber towel that can be stuffed into a small space.
  • Feminine hygiene supplies: Besides their obvious uses, tampons and maxi pads are very helpful for wound management and are an essential part of any first aid kit. Did you know that the modern tampon was invented in the 1800’s for management of bullet wounds? An OB-style tampon can very effectively treat a persistent nosebleed. The smallest OB tampons fit nicely in the nose. Bleeding wounds can be easily controlled with a maxi-pad held in place with an ace wrap.
  • Premade finger splint: Not sure if that finger is broken or not? Just put it in a pre-made finger splint until you get your child to the doctor. You can buy premade finger splints at any pharmacy.
  • Alcohol wipes: I mostly use these for sterilizing my first aid kit instruments, such as tweezers and scissors. They are also useful for cleaning skin before trying to remove splinters.
  • ACE bandage: Although a first line treatment for sprains and strains, ACE bandages are also useful for holding bandages in place on bigger wounds, and holding splints on fractures.
  • Small scissors: For cutting dressings to the right size, cutting medical tape, opening packages, trimming fingernails and hangnails, etc.
  • A bottle of Gatorade: Very useful for hypoglycemia, dehydration, etc. Also useful as an occasional bribe for an over-tired, hungry child.
  • Ziploc bags: Ziplocs are essential for keeping track of teeth that fall out or are knocked out. Did you pull a tick off your child? Stick it in the Ziploc bag for later identification. Certain kinds of ticks are more likely to carry pathogens that cause Lyme disease and other illnesses.
  • Tweezers & small magnifying glass: I mostly use these for removing splinters, but occasionally they are necessary to remove bugs from ears, fishing hooks from fingers, etc. Of note, tweezers are NOT the best way to remove a tick—tweezers often cause you to remove the tick body and leave the head in the skin. The best way to remove a small deer tick is to scrape it off with a credit card. You can clean the credit card first with your alcohol wipes. Here’s more on how to remove a tick.

Keep Your First Aid Kit in Your Car

You’ll never have to remember to pack it. If you need something while you are at home, just go out and get it. If you have more than one family car, consider making a first aid kit for each car.

From HealthChildren.org. Copyright © 2014 Kathleen Berchelmann M.D., FAAP. Kathleen Berchelmann, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician at Mercy Children’s Hospital, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The University of Missouri School of Medicine, and an official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Kathleen and her husband are raising six children.

The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

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Summer Tips: Boating & Beach Safety

Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise and a major component of many spring break trips and summer break fun. But parents should remember that swimming also comes with risk. Follow these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to protecting children from drowning.

BOATING SAFETY

  • Children should wear life jackets at all times when on boats, docks or near bodies of water.
  • Make sure the life jacket is the right size for your child. The jacket should not be loose and should always be worn as instructed with all straps belted.
  • Blow-up water wings, toys, rafts and air mattresses should not be used as life jackets or personal flotation devices. Adults should wear life jackets for their own protection, and to set a good example.
  • Adolescents and adults should be warned of the dangers of boating even as a passenger when under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and even some prescription medications.
  • Children follow your example, whenever you are on a boat – everyone, kids and adults should wear a life jacket.

OPEN WATER SWIMMING SAFETY

  • Never swim alone. Even good swimmers need buddies!
  • A lifeguard (or another adult who knows about water rescue) needs to be watching children whenever they are in or near the water. Younger children should be closely supervised while in or near the water – use “touch supervision,” keeping no more than an arm’s length away.
  • Make sure your child knows never to dive into water except when permitted by an adult who knows the depth of the water and who has checked for underwater objects.
  • Never let your child swim in canals or any fast-moving water.
  • Ocean swimming should only be allowed when a lifeguard is on duty.
  • Teach children about rip currents. If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore until you escape the current, and then swim back to shore.
  • Be aware that pools and beaches in other countries may not have lifeguards, and pools may have unsafe drain systems. Supervise children closely.
  • At the beach, stay within the designated swimming area and ideally within the visibility of a lifeguard
  • Be aware of rip currents. If you should get caught in one, don’t try to swim against it. Swim parallel to shore until clear of the current.
  • Seek shelter in case of storm. Get out of the water. Get off the beach in case of lightning.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2018). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


Summer Tips: Pool Safety

Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise and a major component of many spring break trips and summer break fun. But parents should remember that swimming also comes with risk. Follow these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to protecting children from drowning.

POOL SAFETY

  • Never leave children alone in or near the pool or spa, even for a moment; close supervision by a responsible adult is the best way to prevent drowning in children.
  • Whenever children under age 5 are in or around water, an adult – preferably one who knows how to swim and perform CPR – should be within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision.”
  • Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all four sides of the pool. The fence should not have openings or protrusions that a young child could use to get over, under, or through.
  • Make sure pool gates open out from the pool, and self-close and self-latch at a height children can’t reach. Consider alarms on the gate to alert you when someone opens the gate. Consider surface wave or underwater alarms as an added layer of protection.
  • The safest fence is one that surrounds all 4 sides of the pool and completely separates the pool from the house and yard. If the house serves as the fourth side of the fence, install an alarm on the exit door to the yard and the pool. For additional protection, install window guards on windows facing the pool. Drowning victims have also used pet doors to gain access to pools. Keep all of your barriers and alarms in good repair with fresh batteries.
  • Keep rescue equipment (a shepherd’s hook ­– a long pole with a hook on the end — and life preserver) and a portable telephone near the pool. Choose a shepherd’s hook and other rescue equipment made of fiberglass or other materials that do not conduct electricity.
  • Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties.” They are not a substitute for approved life jackets and can give children and parents a false sense of security.
  • Children over age 1 may be at a lower risk of drowning if they have had some formal swimming instruction. However, there is no evidence that swimming lessons or water survival skills courses can prevent drowning in babies younger than 1 year of age.
  • The decision to enroll a child over age one in swimming lessons should be made by the parent based on the child’s developmental readiness and exposure to water, but swim programs should never be seen as “drown proofing” a child of any age.
  • Avoid entrapment: Suction from pool and spa drains can trap a swimmer underwater. Do not use a pool or spa if there are broken or missing drain covers. Ask your pool operator if your pool or spa’s drains are compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act. If you have a swimming pool or spa, ask your pool service representative to update your drains and other suction fitting with anti-entrapment drain covers and other devices or systems. See PoolSafely.gov for more information on the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.
  • Large, inflatable, above-ground pools have become increasingly popular for backyard use. Children may fall in if they lean against the soft side of an inflatable pool. Although such pools are often exempt from local pool fencing requirements, it is essential that they be surrounded by an appropriate fence just as a permanent pool would be so that children cannot gain unsupervised access.
  • If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first.
  • Share safety instructions with family, friends and neighbors.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2018). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


Connecticut Trails Day 2018

Connecticut Trails Day
June 2 & 3, 2018

Did you know that Connecticut hosts the largest National Trails Day® celebration in the nation?

Get your family outside for a hike! This year, there are 250 events scheduled for June 2 & 3. You can check them out on the Connecticut Forest & Park’s: ONLINE DIRECTORY.

Trails Day events are free and have a volunteer guide. Activities include hikes, family walks, trail runs, paddles, bike rides, historical strolls and so much more!

Connecticut’s Top 10 Hiking Trails

Connecticut today is crisscrossed by hundreds of miles of hiking trails.

According to the Connecticut Office of Tourism, “these hikes run through high land and low, across difficult and easy terrain, and they offer unique insight into the geology, flora and fauna of the state. They also serve as blissful, highly satisfying getaways from the noise and crowds of daily life.” The Top 10 Hikes in the state are:

Mattabessett Trail, Meriden
Mattatuck Trail, Wolcott
Mine Hill Preserve, Roxbury
Farm River State Park, East Haven
Devil’s Den Preserve, Weston
White Memorial Conservation Center, Litchfield
Appalachian Trail River Walk, South Kent
Tunix Trail, Barkhamstead
Bigelow Hollow State Park, Union
Steep Rock, Washington

CLICK HERE for more about all of these cool places for adventure!

Keep Kids Healthy & Safe this Summer

It’s summer, and for kids that means it’s time for sports, swimming, biking and picnics. And while active outdoor time is healthy and fun, experts say it’s crucial for parents and kids to brush up on some seasonal safety tips.

According to the experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the summer poses its own set of risks. In order to help parents keep kids happy, healthy and safe all summer long, they are offering these timely tips:

SUN SAFETY
Sunburns are not only unpleasant, they are damaging to skin health. Minimize your family’s exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation by dressing your children (and yourself for that matter) in cotton clothing with a tight weave, sunglasses and hats with a brim or bill. Stay in the shade whenever possible and use a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or greater, even on cloudy days, and reapply it every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Always keep plenty of water on hand when you’re playing or exercising outside. Unless kids are exercising vigorously for extended periods, plain water –not sports drinks –is the best way to rehydrate.

WATER SAFETY
Drowning is a leading cause of death among children, including infants and toddlers, but parents can make swimming safer for kids with the right safety equipment, instruction and supervision.

“While swimming lessons are helpful, they are not a foolproof plan. Parents should never — even for a moment — leave children alone near open bodies of water,” says Dr. Thomas K. McInerny, the 2013 president of the AAP.

Home swimming pools should be surrounded by a fourfoot- high, non-climbable, four-sided fence with a selfclosing, self-latching gate. Parents, caregivers, and pool owners should learn CPR and keep equipment approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, such as life preservers and life jackets at poolside.

TRAMPOLINES
Even with netting, padding and adult supervision, experts say that home trampolines are dangerous.

“Trampoline injuries are common, and can be potentially catastrophic,” says Dr. McInerny. “From temporarily debilitating sprains, strains and contusions to cervical spine injuries with lasting consequences, the risks associated with recreational trampoline use are easily avoided.”

Thousands of people are injured on trampolines annually. Encourage your child to get exercise in safer ways.

BIKE SAFETY
Children should wear a helmet on every bike ride. Accidents can happen anywhere, anytime. Get your child a helmet specific for biking. Football helmets, for example, are made to protect the head from other types of injuries.

Teach your children traffic and bike safety before allowing them to bike in the street. For example, they should always ride with traffic and use hand signals. If your child doesn’t have the skills necessary to use hand signals without swerving, he or she shouldn’t be riding in the street.

By taking proper precautions, you can maximize the fun this summer by keeping kids healthy, safe and sound.


Provided by StatePoint Media.

Winter Sports Safety Tips

For winter sports activities, be sure to set reasonable limits on outdoor play to prevent hypothermia and frostbite, and make sure kids have a place to go warm up when they get cold. When weather is severe, have children come inside periodically to warm up.

Ice Skating
Allow children to skate only on approved surfaces. Check for signs posted by local police or recreation departments, or call your local police department to find out which areas have been approved. Advise your child to:

  • Skate in the same direction as the crowd
  • Avoid darting across the ice
  • Never skate alone
  • Not chew gum or eat candy while skating.
  • Consider having your child wear a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads, especially while learning to skate.

Sledding
Young children should always be supervised by an adult. Older children’s need for adult supervision depends on their maturity and skill. If older children are not with an adult, they should always at least be accompanied by a friend.

  • Keep sledders away from motor vehicles.
  • Children should be supervised while sledding.
  • Children less than 5 years of age should not sled alone.
  • Keep young children separated from older children.
  • Sledding feet first or sitting up, instead of lying down head-first, may prevent head injuries.
  • Consider having your child wear a (hockey not bicycle) helmet while sledding.
  • Sleds should be structurally sound and free of sharp edges and splinters, and the steering mechanism should be well lubricated.
  • Sled slopes should be free of obstructions like trees or fences, be covered in snow not ice, not be too steep (slope of less than 30º), and end with a flat runoff.
  • Avoid sledding in crowded areas.

Snow Skiing and Snowboarding
Children should be taught to ski or snowboard by a qualified instructor in a program designed for children.

  • Never ski or snowboard alone.
  • All skiers and snowboarders should wear helmets. Ski facilities should require helmet use, but if they do not, parents should enforce the requirement for their children.
  • Equipment should fit the child. Skiers should wear safety bindings that are adjusted at least every year. Snowboarders should wear gloves with built-in wrist guards. Hip pads have been shown to be effective in preventing fractures, as well. Eye protection or goggles should also be used.
  • Slopes should fit the ability and experience of the skier or snowboarder. Avoid crowded slopes.
  • Avoid skiing in areas with trees and other obstacles.

Snowmobiling
The AAP recommends that children under age 16 not operate snowmobiles and that children under age 6 never ride on snowmobiles.

  • Do not use a snowmobile to pull a sled or skiers.
  • Wear goggles and a safety helmet approved for use on motorized vehicles like motorcycles.
  • Travel at safe speeds.
  • Never snowmobile alone or at night.
  • Stay on marked trails, away from roads, water, railroads and pedestrians.

From healthychildren.org, January 2016.


Zika Virus: What Parents Need to Know

zika

With all of the coverage in the news about the Zika virus, it is understandable that parents have questions. Here are the facts you need to know about this virus.

WHAT IS ZIKA?
Zika is a virus that can cause the following symptoms:

  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • Joint pain

Symptoms usually clear up in less than a week, are mild, and rarely require hospitalization. However, because the disease affects people differently, only 1 in 5 of those infected will have symptoms.

In February 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency. Federal health officials have confirmed the Zika virus virus can cause microcephaly (babies born with a small head) and other brain abnormalities in infants. Leaders at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that while many questions remain, they hope this finding will help improve communication and prevention efforts as they continue to study the virus.

HOW DOES ZIKA SPREAD?

Mosquitos: Mosquitoes can carry Zika from person to person. If a pregnant woman is infected, the Zika virus can be transmitted to her baby while she is pregnant or around the time of birth. Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite both indoors and outdoors, mostly during the daytime. Some cases of Zika virus have been confirmed in the United States.

As the weather becomes warmer, more mosquitos will circulate. Parents should take steps to help their children protect themselves from mosquito bites and make sure that anyone else who cares for their children will do this, as well.

Sexual Transmission: Men who live in or have traveled to areas where the Zika virus is spreading should use condoms during sex with a pregnant partner or abstain from sex for the duration of the pregnancy. Even if their partner is not pregnant, men may want to consider taking such steps. Researchers do not yet know how long the virus stays in semen. See Interim Guidelines for Prevention of Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus.

Other: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still is reviewing data on whether the virus can be transmitted through saliva and urine and is not making a recommendation related to those fluids at this time. The American Association of Blood Banks and Red Cross are asking people not to donate blood within 28 days of traveling to affected areas.

TRAVEL WARNING

Until more is known about the Zika virus, the CDC has specific warnings for women and women trying to become pregnant.

  • Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
  • Pregnant women who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
  • Pregnant women who have traveled to such areas where the Zika virus is spreading should be tested within two to 12 weeks even if they don’t show symptoms.
  • Women trying to become pregnant or who are thinking about becoming pregnant should talk with their doctor before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.

Click here for an up-to-date list of areas with ongoing Zika virus activity.

PREVENTION

The best way to prevent getting infected with Zika virus in areas where it is found is to take the following steps to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants or clothing made of fabrics treated with permethrin. When possible, choose clothing made with thicker fabric as mosquitos can bite through thin cloth.
  • Use insect repellents. Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding can and should choose EPA-registered insect repellents and use them according to their product labels.
  • Stay and sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms, or use a mosquito bed net (a permethrin treated bed net is best).

Check CDC’s Zika Travel Information website frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations.

RESEARCH

There are no vaccines or treatment currently available to prevent or treat Zika infection. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the country’s medical research agency, is conducting research to better understand Zika’s effects on the body, to develop tests that can quickly identify the virus in people, and to find treatments that might be effective.

The NIH is working quickly to find answers that Americans and people across the globe need in the face of this rapidly emerging infectious disease.

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Last Updated 5/13/2016. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2016). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

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