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Published on May 23, 2013

Summer Safety Tips for Families on the Go

Young boy in the summertimeSummer is ramping up, and many families are heading outdoors for swimming, camping and sports. When your goal is a day of summer fun, it’s important not to forget about the little outdoor dangers that can ruin your plans.


It feels good to feel the warm sun on your skin after a long winter. But, as you’re enjoying the sunshine, don’t forget how bad sunburns hurt – and the damage they can do to your skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day if you plan to be outside. Harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin even when it’s cloudy. Sunscreens prevent sunburn, reduce your risk of skin cancer and prevent premature aging. 

So … what if you do get a burn? Try taking a cool bath to reduce the heat. Moisturizers can help ease the discomfort as well. Take an aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce swelling, redness and discomfort. Sometimes, sunburns are so severe that blisters develop. Try not to touch the blisters as they are healing. If the blisters cover a large area, or if you have chills, a headache or a fever, contact your MercyCare doctor.

Bee Stings

Another summertime nuisance is bees. Talk to you kids about avoiding beehives and wasps’ nests when they are playing outside. Usually, bee stings are uncomfortable and cause only temporary pain. You may notice a red welt where you were stung, and slight swelling around the area. A few people may have more severe reactions, including anaphylactic shock. If you develop hives all over your body, have difficulty breathing, or notice swelling of the throat or tongue, seek immediate medical attention.

If you get stung, scrape the stinger out of your skin using a credit card, tweezers or a fingernail. Wash the sting area with soap and water, and then apply an ice pack to relieve the pain and ease swelling. If itching occurs, use a hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion. You can also take an antihistamine such as Benadryl if the itching continues to bother you. 

Poison Ivy

You’ve heard the rhyme “Leaves of three? Let it be!”  Poison ivy is a plant that causes a skin rash called contact dermatitis. The rash is red, uncomfortable and itchy, and is marked by blisters or hives. The rash usually shows up 5-15 days after touching the plant and is not contagious. The best prevention is to learn to identify the plant so you can steer clear. Poison ivy has three spoon-shaped leaves and grows like a shrub, low to the ground. 

If you think you’ve been in contact with poison ivy, wash the area immediately with soap and water. Use cold compresses, antihistamines and calamine lotion to relieve the symptoms. If you have a severe case, visit your MercyCare doctor for prescription medication.


Kids love exploring the outdoors, but wooded and grassy areas can pose the threat of ticks. Most ticks do not carry disease and, most of the time, tick bites are harmless.  Use insect repellent and wear pants and long sleeves if you are working or playing in an area where ticks may be present.  

Remove a tick immediately to reduce the likelihood of diseases being spread. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grab the tick as close to its mouth (the part that is stuck in your skin) as you can. Be careful not to grab the tick around its body – you can push infected fluid into your body if it’s squeezed. Pull the tick straight out (don’t twist) until its mouth lets go of your skin. Wash the area of the bite with warm water and soap. If pain or itching occurs, apply an ice pack, calamine lotion or take an antihistamine. If you develop flu-like symptoms or a rash, visit a MercyCare clinic to be checked for tick-borne diseases.

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