Dear Diary,

As temperatures rise, so does the chance of your child getting into an accident. Scraped knees and splinters are part of growing up. Nonetheless, every first time mom wants to shield her little one from getting hurt. That’s why it’s important to get covered with health insurance. And it’s just as critical to know how to avoid accidents that tend to occur this time of the year. I remember not too long ago, my toddler ran across the playground, tripped over a rock and fell flat on the grass. Se scraped her knee and shed blood very the very first time. She thought should go to the hospital, but I knew band-aid and a kiss would make her boo boo better. Weeks later, she still tells the story to anyone who will listen when the topic of safety comes up.

We talked to Chris Vitale, the Injury Prevention manager at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC to find out why it’s critical for families to put health care enrollment on their summer schedules.

Why is Children’s Hospital witnessing an increase in visits to the emergency room?

Injuries go up over the summer months for lots of reasons; kids are out of school and looking for things to do all day (lots more unattended time frequently); curiosity gets the best of them when they get “bored;” they are involved in more frequent physical activity; routines have changed and they may be under a different kind of supervision than they are used to.

Insect Safety

What tips do you have to keep kids safe throughout the summer?
Insect Repellent

  • Apply insect repellent containing diethyltoluamide (DEET) when your child goes outside. Only use products that contain less than 10 percent DEET. Consult your pediatrician before using these products on a small child! (Check out Diary of a First Time Mom’s past post on natural insect repellent for babies and toddler here.)
  • Dress your child in long pants tucked into socks and a long-sleeved shirt to help protect against mosquitoes and ticks. Light colored clothing makes ticks easier to spot and also makes kids less attractive to bees.
  • Check frequently for ticks when you are outdoors or in the woods. Deer ticks are very small—the size of the head of a pin. Dog ticks are larger.
  • Be careful at picnics. Sweet foods and drinks attract bees and wasps. Keep food—and the trashcan—covered.
  • Don’t wear sweet-smelling perfume.
  • Be careful near woodpiles, sheds, dark corners of the garage and other places spiders may call home.

Insect Bites

  • If bitten by a mosquito, try not to scratch. Scratching irritates the bite and may cause infection.
  • Remove ticks with tweezers as soon as they are found. Grab them as close to the skin as possible and pull the tick up and out.
  • If stung by a wasp or hornet, leave the area immediately. These insects can sting repeatedly. Gently scrape the stinger off using the edge of a credit card or your fingernail. You might squeeze more venom into the skin if you use tweezers.

Playground Safety

Playground Safety

  • Equipment should be inspected on a regular basis.
  • Always have an adult present to supervise children on playgrounds.
  • Encourage children to hold onto rails when climbing to the top of sliding boards.
  • Children should always sit down feet first on sliding boards.
  • For swings, sit in the center of a swing, don’t walk or run in front or back of the swings, never stand on a swing, and don’t swing too high.


  • Always make sure your child wears a helmet that fits his/her head–not too big or too small. The helmet flat should be falt on his/her head.
  • Before your child rides his/her your bike, make sure it is safe and working right. Test your brakes and make sure the handlebars are straight and there’s enough air in the tires.
  • It’s never to early to teach your child to obey traffic laws, ride on the right side of the road and use proper hand signals to let others know that he/she is turning. You can play red light, yellow light, green light, stop to make learning fun.
  • Even though you’re with your little one, teach him/her to look both ways before crossing the street with a bicycle. Walk, don’t ride, the bike across the street. Also, be sure to enforce boundaries. Never ride out from a driveway or hillside.

Water Safety

Water Safety

  • If a child is missing, check the pool first.
  • Learn CPR.
  • Enforce all pool rules, including no running, pushing or dunking other swimmers.
  • Make sure children know the depth of the water.
  • Don’t jump or dive in shallow water.
  • Keep a first aid kit, phone and emergency numbers near the pool.
  • Install a fence around the pool area and keep it locked.
  • Remove all toys and floating objects from the water when the pool is not in use.

For more information on how to prevent your children front getting hurt this summer, visit Children’s Hospital’s Be Safe portal. You’ll find additional safety tips, a home safety handbook and fun family activities, like coloring pages. If you live in Pittsburgh, you can obtain quality, affordable health insurance through Healthy Together, a campaign aimed at enrolling 100 percent of children and families in health insurance programs, like CHIP and Medicaid.

About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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