How to Avoid the ER This Summer

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Summertime is all about being outside and enjoying warm weather as much as possible. Parents and kids hit the playgrounds, parks, bike paths, hiking trails, pools, and beaches. And it’s all fun and games — until someone gets hurt.

As the kids enjoy these carefree summer days, keep these common summer ailments/injuries top of mind:

  1. Water safety – Drowning is the number two cause of accidental death in children ages 15 and under. A designated adult should keep their undivided attention on children while they’re in and around water. Use proper safety devices and designate a pool watcher during parties. Teach kids not to run near a pool and to always ask permission before going in the water. Learn how to keep your kids safe in the water.
  2. Heat exhaustion / heat stroke – A heat index at or above 90°F is a health risk. Minimize time in the heat, take regular cool-off breaks and stay hydrated! Encourage children to drink water regularly — even before they feel thirsty. 
  3. Sunburns – Keep children covered in sunscreen — even on cloudy days — to prevent sunburn. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is (at least) SPF 30. Apply it 15-30 minutes before going outdoors, every two hours, and after swimming or sweating. Have children wear a hat and sunglasses with UV protection, and limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV rays are strongest.
  4. Bites and stings – Insect bites and stings are common in summer. Unfortunately, some mosquitos and ticks can spread disease (e.g., Zika virusLyme disease) and some people have severe allergic reactions to wasp stings. Protective clothing and insect repellents are the best line of defense. Check children’s heads and bodies for ticks after being outdoors. Have an emergency care plan in place if a child has a known allergy.
  5. Injuries (cuts/scrapes, sprains/strains, breaks) – As kids play outside, innocent fun can result in sprains, strains and broken bones. Make sure children wear proper protective gear for each activity, including a proper-fitting helmet at all times when riding a bike or scooter, rollerblading/rollerskating, and skateboarding. Be extra careful with trampolines and bounce houses
  6. Concussions – A concussion may result from something as simple as a child falling off a bike and hitting his/her head on the sidewalk. Know how to recognize, respond to, and prevent a concussion. All concussions are serious, so never ignore a head injury, no matter how minor. 
  7. Food poisoning / BBQ safety – Whether it’s a picnic on a summer day or an outdoor meal on a warm summer night, pre-cookout prep and smart food handling can prevent a lot of problems. Always wash hands before/after cooking. Use a cooler, don’t leave food out for more than an hour, and use a food thermometer to ensure meats are cooked properly. Also, adults should closely supervise children around fires and hot barbecues!
  8. Fireworks safety – It’s hard (and would be a little depressing) to have summer without fireworks. Even seemingly harmless drug store fireworks, such as poppers, sparklers and the like, can cause serious injuries if they’re not used safely. Read tips to avoid injury from fireworks.

It’s great to be able to spend time outdoors in the summer and enjoy warm-weather activities. Just make sure to take the necessary precautions so your family has a fun — and safe —summer.

630 Naperville Guest

Hyung Kim, M.D., is a pediatric emergency medicine physician and medical director of pediatrics at Edward Hospital. View his profile.

About Edward-Elmhurst Health

Edward Hospital and Linden Oaks Behavioral Health are part of NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health, a fully integrated healthcare delivery system committed to providing access to quality, vibrant, community-connected care, serving an area of more than 4.2 million residents across six northeast Illinois counties. Our more than 25,000 team members and more than 6,000 physicians aim to deliver transformative patient experiences and expert care close to home across more than 300 ambulatory locations and eight acute care hospitals – Edward (Naperville), Elmhurst, Evanston, Glenbrook (Glenview), Highland Park, Northwest Community (Arlington Heights) Skokie and Swedish (Chicago) – all recognized as Magnet hospitals for nursing excellence. Located in Naperville, Linden Oaks Behavioral Health provides for the mental health needs of area residents. For more information, visit and

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