Parkridge Health System - April 01, 2022

As warmer weather arrives, many kids can’t wait to spend more time outside playing in the pool, riding their bikes or going to the playground with friends. While the CDC encourages outdoor activities to keep kids healthy, they also warn parents and kids to remember safety is key to a great summer!

Dr. John Marshall is the medical director of emergency services at Parkridge Health System. For 27 years, he has cared for patients through some difficult and scary situations. His biggest advice as we head into the summer months: pool, helmet and sun safety are some of the most important things for families to keep in mind.

Dr. Marshall emphasizes that parents and caregivers play a major role in pool safety. “It is not as easy to spot a child struggling in the water as some people may think,” said Dr. Marshall. “Most children do not make a lot of noise or call for help; that is why it is so important to avoid distractions like reading, talking on the phone or using alcohol while kids are swimming. There should be a designated observer watching children while they are in the pool.” In addition, he suggests repeated swim lessons in a safe and observed environment and wearing life jackets in natural bodies of water like lakes or the ocean even if a child knows how to swim.

Helmet safety is another key element for a safe and healthy summer. Helmets should be well maintained, age appropriate, and worn consistently and correctly each time, according to the CDC. “We want to try and avoid concussions during any sports activity, including riding a bike or scooter in the neighborhood,” said Dr. Marshall. “Even with a helmet on, you can still suffer a head injury, so we encourage parents and kids to wear helmets to minimize head injuries with falls.”

Sun safety is also vital to summer fun, and Dr. Marshall says sunscreen should be used anytime kids are outside. “The Tennessee summers are hot and humid, so in addition to sunscreen, we encourage parents to make sure kids are taking frequent water breaks and staying in the shade when possible to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke,” says Dr. Marshall. Sunscreen, sunglasses, hats and breaks from the sun are all ways to keep sunburns and heat exhaustion at bay this summer, according to the CDC.

“We want everyone to have an amazing summer enjoying playgrounds, pools, the lake, hiking or whatever activities you love,” said Dr. Marshall. “We also want parents to keep these tips in mind so they can avoid some of the injuries and illnesses that come with summer activities.”

If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. Parkridge Health has a network of emergency rooms around the Chattanooga area that offer convenient and quick access to emergency care for our communities. Our ERs can treat adults and kids of all ages. View our convenient locations.