It's finally here... Summer! The warm beautiful weather, outdoor activities and family fun are plentiful this time of year. Unfortunately, so are the opportunities for sunburns, heat rashes, bug bites, water dangers and many more summer activity hazards. Below are five important summer safety tips to help ensure a super spectacular summer.
1. Avoid sunburns like the plague
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, getting one blistering sunburn when you are a kid doubles your chances of developing melanoma. It goes without saying the best way to avoid a sunburn is to avoid the sun, but during the warm summer months that is near impossible, so always apply at least an SPF 15 sunscreen to exposed skin 30 minutes before exposure. Also, whenever possible, try to provide shade for your child in the form of umbrellas, loose clothing, long sleeves, light pants and wide-brimmed hats. For children under 6 months old, consult a physician before using any sunscreen.
If sunburn occurs and your child starts to feel ill, consult your pediatrician -- seek immediate medical attention if your little one's temperature reaches 105 F.
2. Swim Smart
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 800 children drown every year. That number is scary and beyond heartbreaking. For that reason, when around any body of water with young children and poor swimmers, stay within arm's reach.
Here are a few top tips from the Red Cross on pool/water safety:
Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
Do not trust a child's life to another child
Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
Establish rules for your family and enforce them without fail.
Safety covers and pool alarms should be added as additional layers of protection.
Teach children to always ask permission to go near water!
If you are around water and your child is missing ALWAYS check the water first. Seconds count.
Secondary drowning occurs after a child has struggled in the water. It is rare and accounts for only 1-2% of drowning cases, but still be aware that if your child has struggled in the water and swallowed water as a result, secondary drowning is possible. Look for these warning signs:
- Trouble Breathing, chest pain, or cough
- Sudden change in behavior
- Extreme Fatigue
3. Stay Away From Stings and Bites
With lovely, warm weather comes evil, pesky bugs. Unfortunately, bright colors and floral prints (summer colors!) attract bees and wasps, as do those sweet sticky faces and hands. If you are going to a park or area that you know will have a high concentration of bugs, bees and wasps, stick to clothing with muted light, solid colors.
If your child is stung, don't pull out the stinger with fingers or tweezers. Scrape gently with a credit card to push the stinger out in the direction in which it entered. Once the stinger is out, make a paste out of baking soda and water, or a 0.5 percent hydrocortisone cream can provide relief.
As for insect repellents... DEET can be toxic! Repellents with 10 to 30 percent concentrations of DEET can be used on exposed skin, clothing and shoes, but do not apply it to little faces or hands. If you want to avoid DEET, the CDC recommends repellents that are made up with picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, both are non-toxic and work just as well as formulas with low levels of DEET.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the CDC recommend that for children older than 2 months of age, use 10% to 30% DEET. DEET should never be used on children younger than 2 months of age.
Combination sunscreen/insect repellent products should be avoided because sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, but the insect repellent should not be reapplied.
4. Overheating/dehydration/and heat rashes
The key to avoiding overheating is to stay hydrated. Never wait for your child to tell you he is thirsty. According to the AAP, your child is already dehydrated when he asks for something to drink, so offer lots of fluids both before going outside, and once your child is outside playing.
Hot, humid weather can lead to blocked sweat glands that lead to nasty rashes in the folds of your child's skin. If this occurs, place your child in a cool, soapless bath. Dry him completely then apply cornstarch powder to the rash, and avoid unnecessary clothing. The rash should clear up in two to three days.
5. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CHILD UNATTENDED IN THE CAR FOR A MINUTE!
Next time you are alone in your car, turn it off and count to 60. Within one minute your car can increase by ten degrees. Under no circumstance should your child be left in a car.
Even the very best parents and caregivers have been known to forget about a sleeping child in the backseat. A good rule of thumb is to keep a small stuffed animal in the car and every time you get in, place the small stuffed animal in your lap to remind you that your child is in the car. Or place your purse/laptop bag in the backseat with your child, so you have to get in the backseat before leaving your car. This is especially useful in the mornings. This may save your child's life.