Avoiding, Treating Stingray Injuries

As beach season kicks into high gear, swimmers, surfers and sunbathers of all ages should be mindful that one wrong step can turn a fun beach day into a total wipeout.

Unwitting beach goers can easily get stung by a stingray when they inadvertently step on the creatures while walking though waters. Lurking stingrays are often invisible because they burrow and blend in well with the sand in shallow waters.

sting ray

When disturbed, the ray flips up its sharp tale and can pierce the swimmer’s leg, foot or ankle. Though not venomous, the stings are painful and the stinger’s puncture wound poses a risk of infection or allergic reaction, says Sheryl Riccardi, a registered nurse and clinical educator in the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department at CHOC Children’s.

Treatment for stings is simple, Sheryl says. First, parents of children who have been stung should remove the stinger. Next, soak the wounded area in hot water until the pain is gone. Other methods to remove the stinging sensation include a vinegar rinse or baking soda paste, as well as over-the-counter pain relievers.

Stings should be reported to lifeguards, and parents of stung children should seek further medical treatment if the wound is still store or burning about 24 hours after the sting occurs, Sheryl says.

Though particularly common in areas with long beaches and shallow waters, stings can be prevented.

Try practicing what lifeguards call the “stingray shuffle.” Instead of taking full steps through shallow waters, drag feet across the sand. The goal is to gently disturb a burrowed ray so that it will swim away.  Stepping on top of the creature will frighten it and increase the likelihood of an attack.

While much less common in Orange County than in other U.S. waters, jellyfish stings should be handled in the same manner as stingray stings.

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Beat the Heat this Labor Day Weekend

With temperatures expected to reach the 90s this Labor Day weekend, please ensure your family stays cool and hydrated to avoid the risk of heat related illness. Check out the following tips for a fun and safe holiday:

• Drink plenty of water. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. By the time you or your child are thirsty, you may already be dehydrated.

• For those who participate in sports, drink extra fluids before the activity begins. Take frequent rest and refreshment breaks. Avoid strenuous activities if possible, especially if you are outside.

• Never leave children, elderly people or pets unattended in vehicles.

• Stay cool indoors. If your home is not air conditioned, visit public facilities such as shopping malls.

• Avoid unnecessary sun exposure. Wear light, loose-fitting clothing, a hat, and use sunscreen. Remember to reapply sunscreen often when swimming or perspiring.

• Take frequent rest and refreshment breaks in a shaded area.

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Fireworks Safety Tips for your Family

If consumer fireworks are part of your family’s Fourth of July festivities this weekend, be sure to supervise your little ones carefully. According to the Orange County Fire Authority, children ages 5 to 9 have the highest injury rate involving fireworks. Moreover, sparklers are associated with the most injuries involving children under the age of 5.

Keep your family safe with these helpful tips:

• Buy only state fire marshall-approved (“Safe and Sane”) fireworks, from a licensed firework stand. The following cities allow consumer fireworks: Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Stanton, Villa Park and Westminster.

• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of a fire or other mishap.

• Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks. Spectators should also keep a safe distance from the shooter and fireworks.

• Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.

• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

• Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

• Do not try to alter fireworks or combine them.

• Point fireworks away from homes and cars, and keep away from brush, leaves, dry grass and flammable materials.

For a safer alternative, consider taking your family to a professional fireworks show. For a list of fireworks shows near you, please visit the Orange County Fire Authority website at www.ocfa.org.

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Have a Safe Summer!

Summer is in full swing, and it’s all about safety this season, whether your family is enjoying a fun day at the beach, or a barbecue in your backyard! Check out these helpful reminders to ensure your little ones have a fun and safe summer. Don’t forget to check back on the CHOC Blog for more summer safety guidelines.

Be Aware of Pool, Spa Dangers

Drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in children ages 1 to 14. Nothing replaces constant supervision. However, layers of protection like fences, door and window alarms, and pool covers will buy you precious seconds if you are momentarily distracted. Here are other important things to know about pool and spa safety:

• Stay away from the drain — Hair and body parts may become entrapped by the drain’s powerful suction. If you have a pool or spa, have it checked by a professional. A professionally installed “anti-vortex” drain cover may help minimize the risk.
• Never swim alone — And that goes for grownups, too.
• Invite a “Water Watcher” to all pool parties — Designate one adult to watch the water at all times. Ask another to watch the children. It’s simple, and it can avert a tragedy.

Protect Your Child’s Skin

Deadly skin cancers are being diagnosed at increasingly younger ages. Researchers have linked this alarming trend to childhood sun exposure. Protective steps you take now will pay off in the years to come:

• Slop it on — Apply 30 SPF sunscreen every day. Cover all exposed skin, including hands, ears and the back of the neck. Reapply after swimming or if your child perspires excessively.
• Keep it cool — Schedule outdoor activities before 10 a.m. or after 2 p.m.
• Cover up — Outfit your children with broadbrimmed hats and protective clothing that covers the arms and legs.
• Protect those peepers — Choose real (not toy) sunglasses with polarized lenses for your children.

Play It Safe

Your local playground is a great place to get exercise. First, take a moment to make sure it is safe:

• Check for hidden hazards — Look carefully for razor blades, broken glass, insects or snakes.
• Examine the equipment — Stay away from any with sharp points or broken edges. Avoid swings that have “S” hooks at the bottom of the seat.
• Ensure a soft landing — Make sure play equipment has at least 12 inches of mulch, wood chips, sand or pea gravel, or mats made of safety-tested rubber.
• Remove all strings — Never let your child play on equipment while wearing a backpack or clothing with strings.

For more information about summer safety, visit www.choc.org. CHOC Community Education offers “Three Tragic Seconds,” a pool safety class for parents and caregivers. To schedule a presentation, please call CHOC Community Education at (714) 509-8887.

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Travel Tips for Your Family

Whether your family is jet-setting across an ocean or taking a quick road trip up north, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has many family vacation travel tips to help you stay safe, and make the idea of travel with kids stress-free.

Car travel

  • Most rental car companies can provide a car safety seat, but selection may be limited. Check that the provided seat is size- and age-appropriate for your child.
  • Set a good example by always wearing a seat belt, even in a taxi.
  • Keep children occupied by pointing out interesting sights along the way and by bringing soft, lightweight toys and favorite music for a sing-along.
  • Plan to stop driving and give yourself and your child a break about every two hours.
  • Never leave your child alone in a car, even for a minute. Temperatures inside the car can reach deadly levels in minutes, and the child can die of heat stroke.
  • Parents should carry safe water and snacks, child-safe hand wipes, diaper rash ointment, and a water- and insect-proof ground sheet for safe play outside.

International travel

  • Check with your doctor to see if your child might need additional vaccines or preventive medications, and make sure your child is up-to-date on routine vaccinations. Bring mosquito protection in countries where mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria are present.
  • To avoid jet lag, adjust your child’s sleep schedule two to three days before departure. After arrival, children should be encouraged to be active outside or in brightly lit areas during daylight hours to promote adjustment.
  • Stay within arm’s reach of children while swimming, as pools may not have safe, modern drain systems and both pools and beaches may lack lifeguards.
  • Road travel can be extremely hazardous in developing countries. Make sure each passenger is buckled and that children use the appropriate car safety seat. Let your driver know you are not in a hurry, and that you will reward safe driving.
  • Conditions at hotels and other lodging may not be as safe as those in the United States. Carefully inspect your room for exposed wiring, pest poisons, paint chips, or inadequate stairway or balcony railings.
  • When traveling, be aware that cribs or play yards provided by hotels may not meet current U.S. safety standards. If you have any doubt about the safety of the crib or play yard, ask for a replacement or consider other options.

Airplane travel

  • Allow your family extra time to get through security, especially when traveling with younger children.
  • Have children wear shoes and outer layers of clothing that are easy to take off for security screening. Children younger than 12 are not required to remove their shoes for routine screening.
  • Strollers can be brought through airport security and gate-checked to make travel with small children easier.
  • Talk with your children about the security screening process before coming to the airport. Let them know that bags (backpack, dolls, etc.) must be put in the X‑ray machine and will come out the other end and be returned to them.
  • Discuss the fact that it’s against the law to make threats such as; “I have a bomb in my bag.” Threats made jokingly (even by a child) can delay the entire family and could result in fines.
  • Arrange to have a car safety seat at your destination or bring your own.
  • When traveling on an airplane, a child is best protected when properly restrained in a car safety seat until the child weighs more than 40 pounds and can use the aircraft seat belt.
  • The car safety seat should have a label noting that it is Federal Aviation Administration-approved. Belt-positioning booster seats cannot be used on airplanes, but they can be checked as luggage (usually without baggage fees) for use in rental cars and taxis.
  • Although the FAA allows children under age 2 to be held on an adult’s lap, the AAP recommends that families explore options to ensure that each child has her own seat. If it is not feasible to purchase a ticket for a small child, try to select a flight that is likely to have empty seats where your child could ride buckled in her car safety seat. Alternatively, there are also some FAA-approved harnesses for older infants and toddlers that fold down in a small, compact bag for convenience.
  • Pack a bag of toys and snacks to keep your child occupied during the flight.
  • To decrease ear pain as the plane climbs or descends, encourage your infant to nurse or suck on a bottle. Older children can try chewing gum or drinking liquids with a straw.
  • Wash hands frequently, and consider bringing hand-sanitizing gel to prevent illnesses during travel.
  • Consult your pediatrician before flying with a newborn or infant who has chronic heart or lung problems or with upper- or lower-respiratory symptoms.
  • Consult your pediatrician if flying within two weeks of an ear infection or ear surgery.

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