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Wear sunscreen, learn to recognize poisonous plants and use insect repellent

We have two teenagers who enjoy hiking and camping. Any safety tips for their outdoor pursuits?

“Yes, some basic precautions will help to minimize outdoor health risks,” says Felicia Workeneh, M.D., a board-certified physician specializing in Pediatrics at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.

“Make sure kids wear sunscreen, sunglasses and brimmed caps, and urge them to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration,” she says.

If they're hiking in tall grass or wooded areas, she advises wearing thick-soled walking shoes or leather boots.

“Alert them to watch where they step, sit or place their hands,” she adds. “They could find themselves in the middle of fire ants or other unwanted critters.”

Dr. Workeneh advises showing photographs of poison ivy, oak and sumac, so your family can identify and avoid the rash-causing plants and vines. “Relate the saying: ‘Leaves of three, beware of me.'”

Use insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes and ticks.

“Don't put insect repellent on babies less than 2 months old,” she says. “When repellent is used, make sure it contains no more than 30-percent DEET and isn't applied to the hands or near the eyes and mouths of young children.”

To help keep bees away, Dr. Workeneh suggests wearing light-colored clothing.

“Remove a bee sting by scraping the stinger in a side-to-side motion with a credit card or fingernail,” she says. “Don't use tweezers which could force more venom into the skin.”

She says not to feed wild animals – not even dogs or cats.

“Play it safe and enjoy the season's outdoor activities,” concludes Dr. Workeneh.​

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Felicia Workeneh, MD

​I believe physicians and parents have to work together to provide the best care for the children, and I hope to work closely with each parent for this purpose.​