Summer Safety

During the summer, children have the opportunity to participate in a variety of events and activities that they normally don’t have the time for during the school year. More time is spent outdoors and fun holidays like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day mean outdoor grilling and spending time at the pool. It’s important that families be prepared to participate in these activities safely and understand the potential risks involved.


The Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus Emergency Center Entrance. Photo by A Kramer.

Q: What do I do if my child is burned?

Depending on how badly the skin is damaged, there are a variety of categories of burns including first-, second- and third-degree. It’s important to treat every burn quickly to try and reduce the temperature of the burned area and prevent further damage to the surrounding skin and tissue. Never use ice, butter or powder on the burned area, and be sure to give your child medication, like Motrin or Advil, to help relieve some of the pain. Assess how badly the skin is burned and take the appropriate steps to help treat it.

  • First-degree burns: The skin will be red but with no blistering. Most sunburns fall into this category and a trip to the emergency room isn’t necessary. However, you can always call your pediatrician’s office and ask to speak with a nurse about next steps. We suggest administering cold water on the area to quickly reduce the skin’s temperature.
  • Second-degree burns: There will be redness with blistering. It’s important not to pop the blisters and take your child to the closest pediatric emergency room for evaluation.
  • Third-degree burns: This happens when multiple layers of skin are burned away. Usually blisters are not seen because the top layers of skin are gone. Take your child to the emergency room immediately for medical treatment. In addition to seeking medical attention for second- and third-degree burns, you should also take your child to a pediatric emergency center if they have large burns – for instance covering their entire back or chest – or if they have facial burns. For Katy and West Houston families what can be a stressful and chaotic time is made more convenient because Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus is the only 24/7 dedicated pediatric ER in your community. To help prevent these types of injuries, we want to remind families to remain vigilant. If your child plans to be outside, be sure they are wearing sun screen with a minimum of 30 SPF, and this should be reapplied every two hours.

Q: How can I ensure my child is safe when swimming this summer?

Pools offer an escape from the heat, but a day of fun can quickly turn into an emergency situation. Home swimming pools are the most common site for drowning to occur for children between the ages of one and four years. All children and young adults should be supervised near pools by someone in addition to a life guard. If you have your own pool at home, be sure the sensor is at least four feet high on all sides and that there are no holes in the fences. Additionally, most children would benefit from some type of swim class, but they will still need to be supervised when around pools to reduce the risk of water-related injuries and accidents. It’s also important that all adults learn CPR. If a tragic accident does occur, immediately call 9-1-1 and begin administering CPR.

Q: What products are best to protect and treat bug bites?

Be sure to buy a product with DEET or picaridin as the active ingredient. This is in preference to products that contain citronella, which are marketed as “safe” but not as effective. However, be sure to get the lowest strength DEET possible. Avoid repellents that are marketed for “deep woods” use and go for something that is kid or family friendly. When children get bug bites, an anesthetic can help with the itching. Look for products with pramoxine as this is considered the gold standard in terms of providing relief from itching. If your child has a number of bites, use some type of oral antihistamine like Benadryl. Visit westcampus.texaschildrens.org for more information about the emergency center at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. For more information about Texas Children’s Urgent Care, visit urgentcare.texaschildrens.org.