Safe summertime fun

Summertime and the livin’s easy. After a season of cold temperatures and indoor activities, swimming pools, sunshine and backyard barbecues offer appealing options for family fun. Before you head outdoors, take a moment to review a few quick tips that will help make those long, summertime days injury-free.

Get sun smart.

So you’ve probably heard that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US, and is commonly caused by ultraviolet (UV) light, or sunlight, exposure. Too much time in the sun can also result in painful burns that can cause all kinds of unpleasant reactions.  On the flip side, sunlight exposure also provides vitamin D – an important vitamin that helps to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. This year, before you go out for some fun in the sun, remember to:

  • Take cover. It’s your best defense against UV exposure. Sunglasses that provide 97 to 100% protection and hats with a 3-inch brim or a bill facing forward are the best accessories that a mom could ask for during the summer months.
  • Stay in the shade. Also, try to limit your sun exposure during 10 a.m. and 4p.m., as they are the peak hours of UV intensity during the day.
  • Use sunscreen. Okay, you can insert the big “DUH” here, but it’s worth repeating. Next to covering up, using a sunscreen with a n SPF of 15 or greater is one of the best defenses you have to protect yourself and your children from UV rays. Apply generously and often.

Just add water.

Just add water, carbohydrates and electrolytes, that is. After an hour of outdoor activity, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends giving kids a beverage that contains carbs and electrolytes to replace what’s lost in sweat and to provide energy. Monitor outside activity to avoid heat stress and reduce activity that lasts 15 minutes or more whenever high heat and humidity reach critical levels. Having said that, it is important to note that parents should talk to their pediatrician before offering water to an infant because it can impact their hunger for bottles or at the breast, and it can dilute the salt in their blood, which can ultimately lead to respiratory problems and seizures.

Get along swimmingly.

Never leave children alone near water. It’s a crucial rule for summer and applies to the obvious places, like swimming pools and the not-so-obvious places, like coolers. Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death among young children and can occur anywhere there is water. In addition to always being present when your child is in or around water, you can also:

  • Enroll your kids in swim lessons. Children ages 1 to 4 may actually be at a lower risk of drowning if they have received some formal swimming instruction. Just don’t count swimming lessons as a way to “drown proof” your kids. It helps, but it’s not a guarantee for safety.
  • Use water wings, rafts, floaties and noodles for fun but not as a replacement for a life jacket.

Bugging out.

Not only are bug bites uncomfortable and annoying, but they can come packing risks for infection, allergic reaction or even disease. Use an insect repellent with DEET, citronella or soybean oil to help keep your children safe from the usual insect offenders like mosquitoes, gnats, chiggers and ticks. Tip: Do not use a sunscreen/insect repellent combo. Though sunscreen needs to be applied throughout the day, insect repellent only needs to be applied once. Avoid overdoing it by keeping them separate.