Summertime Safety Tips for Your Child

Summertime Safety Tips for Your Child

Don’t Worry – Be Wary

As summer’s warmth draws us outdoors, Stephanie DeLeon, M.D., pediatrician and inpatient medical director for Oklahoma Children’s Hospital OU Health, cites two of the more common threats to outdoor enjoyment, based on years of pediatric medical experience: Snake bites and tick-borne diseases. Being mindful of a few fast facts can increase your odds for incident-free summer fun.

Snake Bites

There are three poisonous snakes common in this region:

  • Rattlesnake
  • Copperhead
  • Cottonmouth, also known as water moccasin

Rattlesnakes often give warning – that hollow, rattling sound for which this reptile is named. Dr. DeLeon reminds us that most snakes do not attack unless provoked or threatened. If a bite occurs and the type of snake is known, it’s good information to help physicians determine treatment. “But if you don’t know, don’t pursue the reptile and risk agitating it further,” she said. “Basic wound care – washing the bite area with soap and water - is the first step, then seek medical treatment.” Do not attempt to suck out the poison or apply a tourniquet. These methods are ineffective and not helpful. Read more about snake bites.

Tick-borne diseases

With all the rain this spring, the tick population seems to have multiplied over previous years. Three major illnesses caused by ticks share similar symptoms, which include fever, chills, severe headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting diarrhea, loss of appetite confusion and rash.

Use tweezers to remove a tack. Grasp firmly, gently pull straight up. Do not twist or wriggle, as part of the tick may remain embedded in the skin. Wash the site with soap and water, and leave it alone. Illness is less likely if the tick is attached less than 24 hours. If you find a tick and aren’t sure how long it may have been attached, watch for symptoms.

  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Rash

We think of ticks associated with hiking and camping, but any grassy or treed area is a habitat where ticks can thrive, including your own backyard or neighborhood park. Check your children frequently, at least daily, if they’ve spent time outside.

When camping or hiking, to the extent possible, wear long sleeves and pants. Tuck pant legs into socks to close an entry point for ticks. Wear socks and shoes, not sandals. Read more about tick bites.

Other summer fun-spoilers to avoid:


Use insect repellent containing DEET. Candles containing repellent ingredients may discourage mosquitoes in a limited area. Mosquitoes congregate around bodies of water, especially standing water. Any kind of container can become a breeding ground. Most bites are successfully treated by washing with soap and water. An over-the-counter oral antihistamine or topical anti-itch gel or cream may relieve persistent itching and reduce inflammation or swelling.


Like snakes, spiders don’t typically bite unless they feel threatened. If taken from their natural environment or backed into a corner, they will be on the defense, ready to bite. Spider bites may look scary but are rarely dangerous or deadly, but we encourage families to seek medical care. In Oklahoma, we are cautious about these specific, eight-legged threats, identifiable by marks on their bodies:

  • Brown Recluse bites can cause skin to open and ulcerate
  • Black Widow bites may cause muscle cramping, vomiting

Items that have been in storage (garage, attic, back of closet) may harbor spiders. Shake out shoes, gloves, buckets or other containers before reaching in or inserting feet.

Wasp, bee stings

Some wasps and bees are more aggressive than others. Still, stings are common during the summer season and while not usually life-threatening, they may be very painful. Local wound care is a first step, washing the affected site with soap and water. Some people may have a severe allergic reaction. Any symptoms other than mild swelling around the sting may be cause for concern. If you develop a rash, have difficulty breathing, experience a pounding heartbeat, or excessive sweating, go to the nearest emergency department.


Sunburn may not pose the same kind of threat as a snake or tick bite, but it can cause dehydration, illness and major discomfort that isn’t fun. Avoid exposure during hours when the sun’s rays are most intense and damaging - 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you must be out during peak intensity, cover exposed skin, including head and neck areas, and wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30.

Dr. DeLeon says it’s important for families to experience the wonder of outdoors. You don’t have to be in constant fear. Just be aware of your surroundings, know where your children are, and be informed about possible threats.

If you are unsure about whether a summer bite or injury requires medical care, call Oklahoma Children’s Hospital ER at (405) 271-4876 at or call or visit one of our Oklahoma Children’s Hospital Kids First Urgent Care clinics. You can also call the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information at 1(800) 222-1222 or Text “Poison” to 797979.