Summer is here, and while this is a great time for outdoor play, barbecues and swimming, it is also a time when serious injuries can occur.
Here are some tips for summer safety:
Estimates show that 60-80% of lifetime sun exposure occurs in the first 18 years of life. One blistering sunburn in childhood or five or more sunburns at any age more than doubles the risk of melanoma. The American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement 1999 approved the use of sunscreen on infants down to 6 months of age if adequate covering is not available. Recommendations are to use sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater with both UVA and UVB protection. Apply liberally and reapply every 1-2 hours.
As summer begins, mosquitoes and other biting insects are out in force. Try to remain inside during the worst times of day for bugs, but prevention includes using bug repellants with DEET. While the AAP has said that concentrations up to 30% are safe, 10% is DEET is usually more than adequate for protection. Bug spray can be used in children over six months of age, but combination products including both DEET and sunscreen are not recommended. Sunscreen should be applied to skin every 1-2 hours but bug repellant should only be applied once per day. Apply over clothing and be sure to wash it off at the end of the day.
Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental injury-related death among children ages 1-14 and the leading cause among children ages 1-4. Pools should be surrounded on all sides by a protective, self-closing fence, and children should never be around or near the pool without an adult. Swim classes are a good way to help, but children don’t retain their lessons until at least 3 years of age. Lessons for fun are fine for children under 3, but extra care should be taken with these kids, as the classes may take away their natural fear of water.
Dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are concerns at this time of year. Always encourage fluids, and be aware of symptoms of dehydration – dry eyes, dry mouth, heart racing, cramps, vomiting or diarrhea, no urine for more than 8 hours, lethargy and confusion. People should be cautious about doing activities during extreme heat or the hottest part of the day, and anyone who is exercising should make replenishing fluids a priority.