Don’t Try This At Home Folks

Summer Safety is a hot topic that is sometimes overlooked or forgotten.  The buzz of the summer months provides for lots of fun family time but sometimes we may get caught up in the moment and accidents happen.

There is an exhaustive list of summer safety subjects but in light of the holiday weekend that is upon us let’s focus on fireworks for the time being.  Although the purchase of fireworks for personal use is legal in some states (check with your local legislature to be sure), the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you leave it to the professionals.  Many cities, towns, and communities have a fireworks display done by professionals that you can attend for free. I grew up in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., so I had the pleasure of watching those awesome fireworks on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial across from the Washington Monument, over the Reflecting Pool.  If you ever have an opportunity to see that spectacular display in person, take advantage of it!

If you do decide to have a home display, PLEASE keep an eye on your little ones.  Very serious burns can occur with things that seem as innocuous as the old-time favorite, sparklers. Fireworks including sparklers can reach temperatures over 1000 degrees Farenheit. YES I said it, ONE THOUSAND degrees!

Summer Safety

If perchance a burn does occur, IMMEDIATELY apply cool water – NOT ice – cool water. What you may not realize is that once your skin has been burned a thermal reaction in the affected tissue continues.  So even though you may have removed your hand from the fire, for instance, the damage from that retained heat continues to impact the burned tissue AND the healthy cells next door.  So in order to reduce the impact of the damage to burned and neighboring cells, apply cool water to the area. The cool sensation may also help give some relief from the discomfort.  However, ice can actually cause more damage than good. Believe it or not, ice can burn, too.  Frostbite ring a bell? Hypothermia (super cold temperatures) can cause just as much damage as hyPERthermia (too much heat). See the difference? hyPO = too low, hyPER = too high.  So whenever you see those in front of a medical term (prefix), now you know what that means.  Hypoglycemia = LOW blood sugar. Hypertension = HIGH blood pressure. Got it?

Remove any clothing from the area immediately unless it is stuck to the skin.  Cover the area with clean, dry, sterile gauze or cloth if gauze isn’t available and see your doctor.  Seek medical attention immediately if there is any blistering or oozing of the burns or if the burn is circumferential, meaning it wraps around or encircles an extremity or digit like fingers and toes.  Burns that wrap around parts of the body can cause problems down the road as they heal if not monitored by a trained professional.  As scar tissue is formed in a burn that wraps around a body part occurs over time, the scar tissue can tighten or contract and constrict function of some of the muscles in the area if not addressed appropriately by a professional.  Facial burns should also be evaluated by a physician immediately.

Bear in mind that some children have sensory integration disorders and the loud, flashing lights may be genuinely uncomfortable for them. Noise canceling headphones may be helpful in those cases. Also, if anyone has a photosensitive seizure disorder, the repetitive, intense flashing could possibly trigger seizures.

Sidebar – if you MUST partake of a hot dog as is traditional during this time of year PLEASE look for unprocessed ones containing only ingredients that you can read.  More and more manufacturers are answering the call for healthier versions of foods.  You just have to take the extra seconds to look for them in your local grocery store. Processed meats are associated with a higher risk of cancers later in life.

Happy Healthy Living!

Until Next Time….

Take Home Tidbits:

  • Fireworks can reach 1000 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Apply cool water – not ice – to burns
  • Seek medical attention immediately if burns are blistering, oozing or circumferential
  • Find unprocessed hot dogs

Helpful Resources

AAP 2016 Summer Safety Tips

Dietary Exposure to Volatile and Non-volatile N-nitrosamines from processed meat products in Denmark

Calcium Inhibits Promotion by Hot Dog of 1,2-dimethylhydrazine-induced Mucin-depleted Foci in Rat Colon.


No See-Ums AKA Mosquitoes

Did you know that there are plants that you can purchase for less than $10 they can help repel mosquitoes? You can place them around your doorways to help keep them from slipping in your home behind you and becoming a nuisance in your home.
Although typically just a pest or nuisance, unfortunately mosquitoes can also carry and transmit blood-borne illnesses as well as cause severe allergic reactions in some susceptible people.
There are some natural alternatives to reduce the risk of mosquito bites for you and your family. For starters be sure there’s no standing water in or around your property if at all possible. Be sure to flip over and empty buckets of water, toys or anything else where water can collect.  Mosquitoes can lay eggs in very minimal amounts of water or moist soil. They can lay hundreds of eggs at one time that are joined together to form a raft that can float on water. However, it takes about a week or so for the eggs to transform into larvae then pupae (depending on the climate) and, therefore, be able to survive into adulthood and create a problem. So checking your yard, and around your house about once a week can help. There are several plants that have been known to help deter mosquitoes from hanging around and wearing out their welcome. Citronella is probably one of the most popular plants. They are annuals. So they need to be brought indoors in the fall or you will have to replace them every spring. Lemongrass, marigolds, catnip are other plants that may help repel or discourage mosquitoes. (FYI marigolds also repel rabbits and catnip attracts cats so choose wisely.)

There are also safe, DEET and picardin free options that you apply on you and your family.  DEET (chemical name N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) and picardin are the most common ingredient in chemical based bug repellants.  I personally do my best to stay away from thing that hard to read and/or pronounce.  You may want to do the same. DEET inhibits acetylcholinesterase (an enzyme in the brain and nervous tissues that breakdown the molecules that nerve cells make to communicate with each other and other cells) causing and excitatory effect on cells in the nervous system. Some of the other potential side effects of these chemical bug repellants are eye irritation/pain, vomiting, red eye/conjunctivitis, and oral irritation. In addition, products that contain sunscreen AND bug repellent have a higher penetration of the repellent into the skin.  Using a sunscreen that is not mixed with a bug repellant is safer.  After generations of mosquitoes have been exposed to chemical repellants, they can actual develop resistance and the repellents are no lower useful.

Essential oils are actually very potent, safe alternatives if used properly. Essential oils are the compounds extracted from plants and herbs that have a therapeutic effect either by direct application or inhalation of the aroma (aromatherapy).  More on that at another time. You can purchase citronella oil alone or you can start experimenting and mixing different oils together like citronella, lemongrass, and  grapefruit. There are also premixed oils available and citronella sticks.  Of course, there are citronella candles and lamps but if you can avoid open flames near young children and get the same effect, why not?!

***If you’ve never worked with essential oils before know that they should be diluted with a carrier oil like coconut oil (as long as there are no allergy to coconuts to contend with) or any vegetable oil in your kitchen. Some pure essential oils can be an irritant especially to children’s skin so always dilute oils if you’re not sure. You can just place a few drops of the diluted oil on some of your pulse points where your blood flow is higher and the scent will radiate around you more. Pulse points can be found  behind your ears, inside your wrists, behind your knees, and your ankles. Definitely be sure to apply the oils near openings of your clothing (neck, arms, legs).
Mosquitoes come out at dusk and dawn. So try to avoid being outside during those time frames.  If you must be outside, if possible wear long sleeve shirts and long pants that are lightweight and don’t forget to place your oils around your ankles, neck, and wrists!
If the “no see-ums” insist of having you for a sweet treat, try applying lavender oil to calm the inflammation. A cool compress will help take the edge off as well. If you’re out and about at the park or something, a cool bottle of water or other beverage will do in a pinch. Apply it to the area briefly to get some relief from the itching and slow the progression of the swelling. Adding Epsom salt to your bath also helps relieve the itching. Bear in mind that salty water can sting if you have any open wounds.  So if you’ve been scratching intensely and broken the skin, then skip this step for now. When taking a bath, use lukewarm not hot water.  Heat causes histamine to be released from your cells and will increase the itching sensation.
Happy Healthy Living!
Until next time…
Two Minute Tidbits
  • Mosquitoes come out at dusk and dawn.
  • Mosquitoes only need a small amount of standing water to reproduce.
  • Mosquito egg only take about a week to become larvae that can survive until the adult phase of life so clear your yard about once a week of any standing water.

Supportive Documents

Neurotoxicity and mode of action of DEET