Summer is a wonderful season! Summertime is a great time to be outside, and after the year that we have all had, it is nice to be able to participate in more outdoor activities together again. Summer is also a time when we see more children coming to the emergency department with injuries. It is very important that in order for everyone to maximize their summer fun, they must also pay attention to some simple summer safety rules.
Water safety is a crucial part of enjoying the summer months. We often see water injuries and drownings in both curious toddlers and risk-taking teens, but drowning can happen to anyone and is often silent and swift. It is important to remember those little bodies of water such as kiddie pools as even these can be dangerous. Prevention is our best protection against drowning. This means that pools should be covered when not in use, gated when possible, and a designated adult should be present whenever children are near water. This designated adult should be free of all distractions such as cell phones, video conferences/appointments, other tasks, and should be clear-minded (no alcohol!). Whenever possible, have your child learn to swim at an early age to help prevent water injuries. Teach your older children and teens to respect rules such as “no diving” signs.
Tips for around the pool:
- An adult should be present—and paying attention—at all times when children are swimming.
- When toddlers are in the pool, the adult should be in the water with them.
- Running is not allowed around the pool.
- An adult should check to make sure water is deep enough for safe diving.
- The pool should be securely covered when not in use.
- The gate should be securely closed when the pool is not in use.
One of the best parts of summer is enjoying the warm and sunny weather. Regardless of skin type, we all must be cautious about avoiding too much sun exposure. Protective clothing and sunscreen should be used when outdoors. Young infants should not be in the direct sunlight and may require additional gear such as tents, umbrellas to be shielded from the sun.
Sunscreen and children
Apply it: A broad-spectrum sunscreen that’s rated between 15 and 30 SPF. (Lots of sunscreens are rated even higher but it’s unclear whether the extra SPF actually does anything). Make sure you apply sunscreen wherever you can see skin, and don’t skimp. Spray is OK for the body, but use cream for the face because the FDA is still studying the long-term effects of inhalation. Remember to reapply after the kids get out of the water.
Limit it: Exposure to the sun from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Wear it: Hats, sunglasses, and protective clothing. Opt for wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses that offer UV protection, and even long sleeves and pants when necessary. You can also buy special clothing that is treated with the same chemical that’s found in sunscreen. Wearing this clothing is the equivalent of applying SPF 100 sunblock. Unfortunately, the protectiveness fades over time as the chemicals degrade.
Certain types of outdoor activities require special safety equipment. Helmets are a must! Helmets should be worn whenever children are riding a bicycle, skateboard, or scooter even if only for a brief time or riding a short distance. Parents and other adults should model good behaviors by also wearing a helmet whenever they are riding bicycles, scooters, or skateboards.
Buying a helmet for safety—Purchase only helmets that a bear sticker attesting that they meet Consumer Product Safety Commission standards. You want a helmet that fits snugly on your child’s head and doesn’t slide easily when touched.
Wearing a helmet for safety—Make sure that the helmet sits level on the head—not leaning to the front or back—and that the forehead is covered. Remember that the chin strap must always be fastened.
Tick and mosquito
Other great summer activities include hiking and camping. Unfortunately, these are also activities which pesky bugs may join in on, too. Protective clothing and insect repellent should be used to decrease the risk of exposure to ticks and mosquitoes which can spread infectious diseases, such as Lyme disease and West Nile virus, respectively. Mosquito bites may also cause itching which is uncomfortable to children. Ticks should be removed quickly and cautiously. Make sure to check out your child’s skin from head to toe after a day of play outdoors.
- Make sure to use insect repellent on your kids when they’re playing outside, especially if they’re in wooded areas or are near where water collects.
- Choose insect repellent that contains DEET or picaridin. The CDC recommends between 10 and 30 percent DEET. (The higher the concentration, the longer the protection lasts.) Some kids may prefer picaridin, which has no smell and lacks the somewhat greasy feel of DEET. Look for picaridin concentrations of between 5 and 10 percent.
- Have your kids wear pants, long sleeves, and socks when hiking or playing in the woods, or when going out when they’re likely to encounter lots of mosquitoes. The clothing helps protect against ticks and mosquito bites.