Survival Kit Takes Sting Out of Too Much Fun

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Family Trip To Beach

Common sense and a well-stocked beach bag can help parents keep children happy and healthy during trips to the shore. Your "surf and survival" bag should include sunscreen, plenty of drinks and a first aid kit, complete with meat tenderizer.

"The most common problem is sunburn, and it's usually because people aren't thinking," said Dr. Joan Shook, a pediatric emergency medicine specialist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

"Babies and young children tend to have fair skin and are especially susceptible to the sun," she said. Shook recommends that a sunscreen, with at least a SPF 15, be applied frequently. Hats and sunglasses can also provide protection, especially since the reflection off the sand and water intensifies the sun's rays.

The heat also poses a threat, especially for infants who are yet unable to sweat and cool themselves. Shook urges parents to keep babies in the shade, free of blankets or extra clothing.

Children should also be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Water, fruit juices and sports drinks are the best bet. Caffeine, however, should be avoided.

Although playing in the sand can be fun for many young beach-goers, parents need to make them aware that beached sea animals, especially jellyfish, are not toys. If children get tangled in the tentacles, remove them with tweezers or gloved hands and immediately wash the wound with salt water. Applying vinegar, baking soda or meat tenderizer (papain) to the area will also help alleviate any pain.

"Meat tenderizer is helpful in treating a jellyfish sting because it digests the proteins left on the skin," Shook said. Seek medical attention if severe pain, swelling or other allergic reactions accompany the wound.

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Shook also suggests following these simple safety tips:

  • Never leave children unattended near a body of water.

  • If in a group, designate at least one adult to supervise the kids' activities.

  • Avoid the beach during the heat of the day, typically from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Leave perishable items at home to avoid food poisoning.

  • Create a first-aid kit that includes bandages, alcohol wipes, sunscreen, aloe, a bottle of water, and meat tenderizer.

  • Wear foot protection to help guard against glass cuts, coral scrapes, sand burns or jellyfish stings.

  • Learn CPR.

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