How can I protect my kids during summer outdoor activities?
Summertime means more outdoor time with sun, water and bugs. So, what are the best ways to keep your family safe during warm summer days?
Barriers are the best forms of protection from those sunny rays. For babies, sunscreen can be added for skin protection starting at 4 months of age with products that have limited or no perfumes or additives. In addition, it is always wise to keep on using blankets, hats/clothing and shade as well to protect the skin from direct sun ray exposure.
Sunscreen should be applied a minimum every two hours and remember that sunscreen needs at least 15-30 minutes to take effect. When using spray products, minimize the risks of inhalation or eye irritation by spraying product into a hand and rubbing it onto the child’s skin rather than spraying it directly onto the child’s body.
Sun protective clothing is also highly recommended. Lighter colors are less likely to absorb rays and cause abnormal heat elevation.
Try to stay cooler in the shade with umbrellas and pop-up tents.
A few other sun tips:
- Skin damage can occur on overcast days too. Don’t be fooled by cloudy days. Continue to use sun protection just as you would on cloudless days.
- Regularly watch moles and freckles. Contact your pediatrician or medical provider with any changes in size, shape, color or number.
Summertime also tends to bring out more insects. To protect your family from bug bites:
- Don’t use scented soaps, perfumes or hairsprays on your child when outdoors.
- Be careful around stagnant water — that’s where mosquitoes love to congregate and breed.
- If possible, dress your child in breathable cotton, long sleeves and long pants. This is especially important at dusk and dawn when insects are more likely to be out. Be sure to use protective clothing when hiking in wooded areas.
Water & Pool Safety
When it comes to summertime activities, pool safety is extremely important. Drowning is the No. 1 cause of accidental death in children between ages 1-4 years old. It’s quick and it’s silent. Here are some tips on keeping your child safe:
- Never — even for a moment — leave young children alone or in the care of another child while in or near bathtubs, pools, spas, wading pools, irrigation ditches, ponds or other standing water. During swim times, designate a “water watcher” — an adult who will stay within arm’s reach of children in the water.
- Place a pool fence completely around the pool or spa, isolating it from the house and not attached to the house. Children can climb out windows, through a doggy door and can easily slip out of an unlocked back door and into the backyard unattended.
- Fencing should also have nothing alongside it like patio furniture that may give a child the chance to climb up and over. The fencing should be at least 4 feet high and have no footholds for kids to climb.
- Have a gate that is self-closing and self-locking with a handle at least 54 inches from the bottom of the gate.
- Pool alarms are good, but a fence and monitoring are the most important preventions.
- Anyone with a pool should learn CPR.
Every child should learn how to swim. When to start swimming lessons is an individual decision for parents, based on their child’s development. Talk with your pediatrician about whether your child is developmentally ready.
Following these tips and guidelines will help create a fun, memorable summer for your children and your family.
Dr. Chris Koutures is a dual board-certified pediatric and sports medicine specialist who practices at ActiveKidMD in Anaheim Hills. Please visit https://activekidmd.com or follow him on Twitter (@dockoutures).