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Outdoor Dangers and Safety Tips

Sun protection

Thayer Allyson Gowdy

Your little one's new mobility will help make this a special time for both of you. She'll be able to get a lot out of exploring the great outdoors, but you'll have to be extra vigilant about protecting her from a host of new hazards. Here are some to watch for:

  • Overheating: Infants and toddlers are especially vulnerable to heat, so keep your child cool and well hydrated. Hot, flushed skin and a high fever, or cool, clammy skin without fever, indicate a serious heat reaction. Both warrant an emergency call to the pediatrician. If your child has a fever over 105? F. or if you suspect heatstroke, call the local emergency squad or 911. Give him Tylenol (acetaminophen), and cool him as rapidly as possible by removing his clothes and sponging him down with room-temperature water.
  • Stings and bites: Protect your little one from hungry insects by dressing her in lightweight, long-sleeve shirts and long pants when in wooded areas or grassy fields and by applying non-DEET insect repellent to her clothing. (Spray the repellent on the clothes before dressing your child, so that she doesn't inhale fumes.) Remember that bright colors and floral prints attract bees and wasps, as do sticky faces and hands. If your child is stung, don't pull out the stinger with fingers or tweezers; scrape gently with a credit card to push the stinger out in the direction in which it entered. A paste of baking soda and water or a 0.5 percent hydrocortisone cream can provide relief. Some swelling and itching are normal, but emergency medical services should be called immediately if the swelling is pronounced, especially around the face and lips, if your child experiences wheezing or shortness of breath, or if you know that she is allergic to bees and wasps.
  • Water dangers: Keep your pool fenced, and ask neighbors to do the same (local regulations may require it). Never let an infant or toddler go in or near any body of water without strict supervision, even for a moment. Be alert even in shallow water-drowning can occur in less than an inch of water, and your 1-year-old's newly found land legs may not serve very well for wading. And take an infant and child CPR course.
  • Sunburn: The best way to handle sunburn is to keep your child out of the sun. Always apply at least an SPF 15 sunscreen to exposed skin, and provide shade for your child in the form of tents; umbrellas; long-sleeve, loose clothing; and wide-brimmed hats. If sunburn occurs and your child starts to feel ill, consult your pediatrician -- and do so immediately if his temperature reaches 105? F.
  • Rashes: Hot, humid weather can lead to blocked sweat glands and prickly heat, a mild, bumpy, red rash occurring in warm and moist folds of your child's skin. Cool, soapless baths, cornstarch powder, and avoiding unnecessary clothing will usually clear the rash up in two to three days. Avoiding poison ivy is the best way to deal with this common menace. The itchy and weepy rash that results from contact with this plant, however irritating, is not usually dangerous. Soaking the affected area in cool water or massaging it with an ice cube and then allowing it to air dry can be effective when done several times daily.

Treating Rashes

For all rashes, calamine lotion can provide some relief; prescription corticosteroids will also help if taken soon enough. Call your doctor if the rash is in or near your child's eyes or mouth or if you think an antihistamine might help.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.