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Children’s Safety Tips for This Summer Vacation

Peggy LU, Chair of Family Medicine, Family Medicine Physician, Assistant Chief Medicial Officer

Here comes the beautiful summer holidays! While parents are busy arranging family outings and all kinds of treatments for their children, many potential security vulnerabilities may exist both physically and psychologically. Today, our Family Physician Dr. Peggy Lu will talk about how to stay fit and spend a great time with your children in the summer vacations.

Q: Nice to have you with us today Dr. Lu. As you know the summer vacation is coming. Some children get slacker and less active. They tend to sleep-in long hours and even skip breakfast, and there are many don’t exercise. The body will show signs of sub-health such as gaining weight and even obesity. Can you tell us why exercise is
so important to health?
A: A balanced diet together with moderate exercise is of vital importance for a healthy lifestyle. Moderate exercise means five days a week every time thirty minutes exercise, or three times a week every time one hour. Recommended sports are aerobic exercises such as bicycling and jogging. Moderate exercise can prevent the occurrence of chronic diseases, improve metabolism, and keep you in good shape. Once you get started, you will feel the happiness and relaxation exercise brings because it produces hormones like endorphins.

Q: How do you think children should spend their summer vacation?
A: For children under ten years old, I have two key words: wake up naturally, and do outdoor sports. A good mixture of both will be enough.

Q: On the school days, kids usually get up at 6:30 in the morning. Is it okay that they wake up at 8:30 or 9 o’clock during the holidays?
A: Definitely. Take the great opportunity and sleep adequate hours. For children in their teens, they should have 10-12 sleeping hours daily.

Q: As a mother yourself and a family physician, what advices you will give parents in terms of children’s safety education?
A: Safety education is age-specific. For a 1 to 2 years old toddler, I will suggest parents to create a baby-friendly environment: take protective safety measures on furniture, stairs should be fenced, hot water bottles should be separately placed, electric plugs should be wrapped in a plastic case… When children get older, they should pay attention to and take outdoor safety precautions. Different age group requires tailored safety precautions.

Q: As a family physician, you will face all kinds of illness. What is the most common disease in the summer time?
A:Temperature peaks in the summer vacation. We often see patients have a heatstroke in this season. Usually people don’t drink enough water and play in the sun for too long. Food spoils easily in summer, which could cause intestinal food infection and other diseases.

Q: What advice will you give children to avoid accident when they have outdoor activities?
A: For kids love to play sports, they must take good safety measurements. For example, when kids go bicycling, they have to wear helmets. When they go skateboarding, they must wear protective gears.

Q: Children’s playground in the shopping mall is most popular in the summer holidays. Do you think they are safe for kids?
A: Relatively speaking yes, they are safe, because they are especially made for children so they should take safety precautions seriously. However, one potential issue is cleanliness of the public areas as they are usually where enterovirus spreads. While letting kids play and have fun, parents need to make sure kids wash their hands afterwards. Hand washing is the most effective way to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.

Q: How to avoid drowning or choking on water when kids learn to swim?
A: First of all, parents must teach children to swim till they master the skill. Before they are good at swimming, children need supervision and only swim in a swimming pool with lifeguard by the side. Children shouldn’t be allowed to swimunaccompanied. Parents should pay attention to choking on water and go to hospital for medical treatment immediately if any choking happens, because choking on water can lead to wet lungs and respiratory failure.

Q: Is there any parents come to hospital to get some medicine before their summer outings?
A: Yes. Especially when they are preparing for a long trip and there is language barrier involved. Some parents have the misunderstanding and want to get antibiotics, which is not necessary. Usually the medical package for traveling includes dressing materials, thermometer, fever medicine such as paracetamol, and mosquito spray. There is no need to bring either hydrogen peroxide or merbromin along to treat minor wounds and scratches; warm soapy water will do the work.

Q: How to effectively prevent sunburn in children?
A: The most serious sunburn is second-degree burn and the damage could extend beyond the top layer of skin. When exposed to the sun, we need to apply sunscreen with recommended SPF, and remember to reapply once in a while. Of course soaking up some sun is beneficial for the body, as it activates the Vitamin D and helps calcium absorption.

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