Part of being a child is playing outdoors. Outdoor play can offer a child many benefits, such as lessons in nature and physical movement skills. No matter how careful the child and parent are to follow safety rules, sometimes children get hurt. Below, you will find some typical minor injuries a child can receive while playing, as well as advice and safety tips for each. If the child's injury is an emergency, call 911 right away.
Minor Cuts and Scrapes
For minor cuts and scrapes, rinse the wound with clear water to avoid irritation and rinse with an antiseptic. Next, apply antibiotic ointment to prevent infection. For the most minor wounds, leave the area uncovered, as a bandage can slow the healing process. For deeper minor wounds, apply a bandage of appropriate size to help prevent infection from getting in. Change the bandage and re-apply the antibiotic ointment twice daily, until the wound has closed. Large, deep, or puncture wounds should receive medical attention via 911 right away.
The best way to prevent sunburn is to apply sunscreen on your child every time he plays outside. Sunscreen that contains an SPF of 30 or higher (the higher, the better) and is PABA free is the best for use in children. If your child has a sunburn, gently place cool cloths on the affected area for a few minutes. Afterward, apply aloe gel. Do not apply lotions or water warmer than room temperature, as this will sting the sunburned area.
Insect Bites and Stings
To prevent an insect bite or sting from happening, use insect repellent with DEET. If your child has received an insect bite or sting, first remove the stinger (if applicable) by scraping it off with a credit card or similar surface. Wash the area thoroughly. Do not squeeze the affected area. This can spread any venom. Apply an antiseptic to remove germs and ease the itch. If a bite is swollen, apply an antihistamine cream. If a bite or sting becomes hard or infected, contact your child's pediatrician.
During outdoor play, it is possible for your child to experience allergic reactions to insect bites or stings, plants, and more. Signs of an allergic reaction include abnormal swelling, rash/hives, having trouble breathing, fever, and nausea, and even anaphylaxis. If your child has a known allergy, it is important to keep an emergency safety kit containing epinephrine shots, in case of anaphylaxis. If this occurs, treat your child accordingly and get emergency help right away by calling 911.
Bruises and Bumps
Outdoor play for children often includes dodging balls, running fast, and even just playing rough. Bruises and bumps happen frequently in many children just from playing. If your child gets a bruise or bump, first check the area to be sure that the injury isn't more serious. Place a cold compress, such as an ice pack or frozen vegetables on the affected area to reduce swelling. Contact a doctor if needed. Take proper concussion cautions if the injury is on the head.
This is not an all-inclusive list. However, it should help inform you regarding typical outdoor injuries and risks for children. Remember that your child’s licensed physician is the best source of information. Discuss these and other risks with that physician to compare and be sure you are doing the right thing.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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