As we gear up for another hot summer HM Hospitales, Spain´s leading private healthcare group, shares its top summer tips for safe travel with children.
Summer is associated with fun – especially so for children. However, much can go wrong – even disastriously so, if three basic principles are not followed.
These come under the three headings of “Supervision, Prevention and Protection” – and are key in avoiding the so-called ´summer evils´, of which drowning is “the most feared”.
Although not common, sadly, “in Spain every summer there are tragic cases – in the swimming pool, at the beach or even in the wading pool” said Dr Isabel Romero, paediatric coordinator at HM Hospitales.
The sea has added dangers such as the potentially dangerous ‘blast’ injury caused by the tentacles of jellyfish. “Try to wash the area with salt water. Never use fresh water or rub the area. If any jellyfish remains, try to remove them with tweezers or hard plastic. The most effective way to soothe the pain is to apply cold for 15 minutes. It is not effective to soak the injury with ammonia or urine. Never touch a dead jellyfish or its remains with your fingers,” warns Dr Romero.
It is important to follow recommendations of lifeguards at the beach or the swimming pool. “Yellow flag means to be very cautious, not only about the waves, but also because of jellyfish presence. Sun-creams have to be applied correctly (about half an hour before exposure and repeat the application through the hours of exposure) as they do not only prevent from burning, but also perform as protection against jellyfish.”
Attention To Symptoms
Supervision, prevention and protection should be followed as far as possible to minimise the other ´summer evils´ of which sunstrokes, insect bites, and food poisoning are the most common reasons to visit the doctor or ER.
Dr Romero warns that some are initially hard to detect. “The older child will complain of a severe headache, malaise, even vomiting and fever, however the younger ones will be very bad-tempered. When the heat is very strong, although a sun cream is being used, and the child’s skin is already tanned, it is important to avoid a prolonged exposure to the sun, to use hats and light clothes, as well as drinking a sufficient amount of water” she said.
In the countryside the most common hazard is insect bites.
The most effective preventive measure is the use of repellents or barrier measures such as mosquito nets as well as wearing light-coloured, long-sleeved clothing.
If the bite does occur it helps to be able to identify the type as soon as possible:
“The wasp makes a blotch, the bee leaves its sting, the spider leaves an injury with two entry points and the tick leaves a black spot”.
The most effective action is to wash the area with soap and water, and in case it is a bee bite, the sting should be removed with tweezers as soon as possible to stop the venom from penetrating further, before applying calming solutions, ammonia sticks or cold in the area, avoiding direct contact with the skin”
Sometimes, it is not only a local lesion, but there may be similar lesions that spread over the rest of the body.
In this case, it is advisable to double check with a pediatrician, who will decide if it is necessary the use of other treatments such as antihistamine or specific creams.”Sometimes stings cause more serious allergic reactions, and whenever there is an exaggerated skin reaction, swelling of the eyelids or lips, intense itching of the hands or breathing difficulties, parents should go immediately to ER or contact 112” says Dr. Isabel Romero.