Q: Spring is finally here! What do I need to do to make sure my kids and family are safe?
A: Most people look forward to spring in Wisconsin because it means many outdoor activities that aren't available in the winter. However, along with those activities come some safety concerns.
1. Please make sure your children and teens wear a helmet while biking, rollerblading or skateboarding. Most deaths and hospitalizations are a result of head injuries, and it is estimated that helmets can reduce head injuries by anywhere from 63-88%. Please set an example, and wear your helmet as well. Your head is just as important as theirs!
2. Practice safe boating. Wearing life jackets can save lives. In Wisconsin, most boating accidents actually occur on sunny days in calm weather. Make sure your family is educated about boating safety and rules to help prevent an accident as well. The Wisconsin DNR offers boater safety courses locally for minimal cost, around $10. In fact, anyone born after 1988 is required to have a boater safety certificate in order to drive a boat in Wisconsin.
3. Make sure you and your family know how to swim. Make sure children are always supervised while swimming. If you or someone in your family doesn't know how to swim very well, consider lessons. The YMCA offers lessons to children and adults in the community at reasonable prices. You do not need to be a YMCA member, and they do offer financial assistance for people meeting certain criteria. Check out YMCAfoxcities.org for more information. No age is too early or too late to start learning!
4. When spending time outside in the sun, make sure you and your children are protected against sunburn. Sunburns at any age can lead to increased skin cancer later in life. Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays or wear protective clothing. Reapply sunscreen often. If possible avoid sun exposure during the middle of the day, when rays are harshest.
5. When spending time camping or hiking, make sure to protect your family against ticks. Ticks are most active from late spring through summer. Deer ticks in Wisconsin cause Lyme Disease as well as several other illnesses. Wear light-colored clothing to cover exposed skin and/or use insect repellant with DEET, avoiding application to eyes, hands and mouth. Perform tick checks of your body after being outdoors. Lyme disease can cause fever, rash, arthritis, even neurologic problems, so protect yourself! See your physician if you have symptoms of a tick-transmitted illness.
By Sarah Marcoe, MD, ThedaCare Physicians-Kimberly.