South Texas Health System Children's Offering Valley Parents Important Child Safety Information to Prevent Accidental Injuries and Illnesses During the Summer Months

Tuesday, June 18, 2024
A group of children riding bikes on a summer day.

School’s out across the Rio Grande Valley, marking the unofficial start of summer for thousands of children. From playdates to family road trips, families will be out in full force enjoying the warmer weather and extra bonding time.

Unfortunately, the summer season also poses a multitude of safety risks for children, including a greater danger of health-related issues like dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke; foodborne illnesses like norovirus and salmonella; eye damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet light; sports-related injuries and water-related accidents and drownings.

Last summer, more than one million children were rushed to emergency rooms between June and August because of injuries caused by summertime products like grills, water toys and fixed installations like decks, pools and patios, according to, with children accounting for 30% of all ER visits during the summer months.

Pediatric Emergency Care at STHS Children's

Should your child experience a serious accident, injury or heat-related illness, seek immediate medical attention. STHS Children’s is home to the largest dedicated pediatric emergency room in the Rio Grande Valley. For more information, visit our ER page.

“From injuries involving swimming pools, trampolines and bicycles to heat-related issues like heat exhaustion and sunburns, the STHS Children’s emergency room fills up during the summer with children sustaining injuries or experiencing illnesses that may have been prevented with a little extra vigilance,” says Kim Davis, Pediatric Administrator, South Texas Health System Children’s. “Parents and caregivers play a vital role in protecting children from injuries and illnesses with greater awareness of the threats around them. While you can’t keep an eye on them 24/7, you can take some simple steps to keep them out of harm’s way.”

Tips for Keeping Your Kids Safe Over Summer

So, whether your kids will be spending the summer at home or out and about, South Texas Health System Children’s is offering the following tips to keep them safe and secure throughout the season:

  • Lather your children with sunscreen: It’s important that you protect kids’ skin with at least 15 to 50 SPF anytime they’ll be outdoors, especially between 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. when harmful ultraviolet rays are their strongest. Remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming, sweating or toweling off. And consider dressing your kids in clothing with sun protection for an added layer of protection.
  • Keep kids hydrated: When it comes to the hotter temperatures and high humidity found in the Valley during the summer months, hydration is key. So, make sure to keep kids hydrated at all times, especially the day before a big activity or playdate. Avoid sodas, energy drinks and fruit juices, which may worsen dehydration.
  • Maintain healthy eating habits: There’s no doubt junk food is a summer staple. But it’s important to ensure your children eat a well-balanced diet during the summer to help them get the vitamins and nutrients they need to fuel their summer fun.
  • Beware of hot cars: There’s no safe situation, temperature or length of time for a child to be left alone in a car. While no parent would ever intentionally forget their child in the car on a hot day, researchers have found that half of all hot-car deaths involved a loving caregiver who forgot a sleeping child in the backseat. So, health experts encourage parents to develop daily habits that can prevent hot-car deaths, including being extra vigilant when you have a new or different routine, leaving an important item like your purse or cell phone in the backseat to serve as a reminder to get your child out of the car when you retrieve the item.
  • Bike ride safely: Make sure your kids ride a properly fitted bike, wear a properly fitting bike helmet and follow the rules of the road, including obeying traffic rules, riding with the flow of traffic and riding on the sidewalk when available.
  • Practice water safety: Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death in U.S. children ages 1 to 4, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, so it’s important to practice water safety. Whether your kids will be in a swimming pool or the open water, safety experts encourage parents to stay vigilant. Get your children swimming lessons, especially if you have a pool at your home. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends swim lessons as a layer of protection against drowning that can begin for many children starting at age 1.  
  • Protect your kids from bugs: Use insect repellent to ward off bugs. The AAP recommends no more than 30% concentration of DEET in insect repellants for children over two months old.
  • Prevent playground mishaps: Spending more time outdoors may make kids more prone to scrapes and bruises. So, it’s important to practice safe playground habits to prevent injuries, including doing a touch test before kids get on slides and swings to avoid thermal burns; looking for playgrounds that feature safer surfaces like rubber or mulch, so they can safely run, play and even fall. And always keep a first aid kit handy.
  • Don’t overdo it outdoors: Kids of all ages should take breaks from playing outside by retreating into the shade or an air-conditioned space every 20 to 30 minutes.

By following those common-sense safety precautions, you can help ensure your child has a safe, healthy and enjoyable summer.

For medical emergencies, call 911 or get to the nearest emergency room.