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Tuesday
Jun212011

Summer Dangers in the Backyard and Beyond

Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/ Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With summer officially underway, now is a good time for parents to tune in to warm weather dangers to keep their children safe this season.

In a study released Monday, researchers found that during the warmer months, on average, one child drowns every five days in a portable above-ground pool -- including those small inflatable pools filled only with a few inches of water, as well as larger portable pools that can hold as much as four feet of water.

"Because portable pools are generally small, inexpensive and easy to use, parents often do not think about the potential dangers these pools present," said Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio, senior author of the study.

Keeping children safe around pools of any size means preventing access to the water by unsupervised children, as well as constant supervision when children are in and around the water, the study says.

But aside from drowning, children face many other dangers during the warm summer months.  Here's a look at some of them and what parents can do to protect their kids from harm:

SUN: Cover your children in broad spectrum sunblock before going outdoors, applying it before putting clothing on.  And remember to re-apply every two hours, and after going in water or sweating.

The FDA will begin regulating sunblock next year.  In the meantime, consumers should choose sunblock containing zinc oxide or avobenzone, according to Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician based in Austin, Texas, and co-author of Baby 411 and Toddler 411 guides.

Heat stroke is another danger on hot and humid days, particularly in the beginning of summer, before the body has had a chance to adapt to the warmer climes.  Make sure children are properly hydrated if they're playing outdoors.  It also may be prudent to look for indoor fun or shade play for your children during the hottest time of day, doctors say.

WHEELS: Many families pull bikes and scooters out of the garage when the mercury heats up, but whatever time of year, helmets are essential to saving lives.  Smith recommends parents make sure the helmets they purchase have the Consumer Product Safety Commission seal.

Helmets should sit level on the head, above the eyebrow line and straps need to be secure, said Andrea Gielen, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy.

WEATHER: Lightning claims the lives about 300 people in the United States annually.  If a lightning storm is coming, head indoors.  Do not stay in an open space, like a football field or a golf course, where you would be the tallest object, Smith cautions.  Common wisdom still holds: Do not stand under a tree during a lighting storm.

PLAY: Prevent injuries with supervising children at the playground and by making sure the surface of the playground where your child plays can absorb impact during falls.

BUGS: During evenings and cooler times of day when mosquitoes are likely to bite, cover skin with a bug repellent that includes DEET, experts say.

For those uncomfortable using the chemical, Brown recommends looking for products that contain picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is approved for use in children ages 3 and up.  All three options repel not only mosquitoes, but ticks too.  She also suggests using a mosquito net over a baby stroller.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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