KEEPING SUMMER SAFE AND FUN
Now that spring has sprung, Summer is just around the bend. This is the time to not only get prepared, but also educated for summers’ blissful heat. Here are some HOT safety tips that will help you to keep your families summer safe and fun even on the hottest of those hot days to come.
Two of the most well known ways of keeping your child’s skin safe from head to toe are sun block and sun screen. Sun block is used to deflect the suns harmful rays, and sun screen is used to absorb them. Both work as effectively as the other. These creams, lotions, and sprays help to prevent your child’s skin from burning. They also help to screen and block out the damaging and potentially dangerous UVA and UVB rays that can cause problems down the road such as premature aging and various types of skin cancers.
Choosing the right sun block or sun screen is very important. First of all, choose one that is made especially for children. When you are choosing a sun block or sun screen always make sure that the SPF is 15 or higher for medium to dark completed children. If yours has fair skin, freckles, or moles choose one with an SPF no lower than 30. Many doctors recommend an SPF of at least 30 for all children. Keep in mind that regardless of which brand you choose it will only offer maximum protection if applied properly and consistently. Follow the directions on the label for best results. Do not use after the expiration date is up. Babies under six months of age should not use sun block or sun screen without the consent of a doctor. Children this young should be kept in the shade due to the sensitivity of their delicate skin.
Another method of skin protection is in the way that you dress your child. When in the direct sun try to keep your child clothed in light, tight woven, breathable fabrics such as cotton. The child should be covered as much as is possible and comfortable. Sun shielding hats or visors, along with socks and shoes are a must. An average T-shirt has an average sun-protection-factor, or SPF of 7 or 8 so it is best to use a sun block or sun screen along with this method.
It is also a good idea to limit outside playtime when the sun is at its’ brightest and hottest, usually between the hours of 11am and 3pm, Seeking shade, and using an umbrella or a canopy on your stroller are a couple of good ways to help avoid the direct sun when it can’t be avoided completely. Keeping outside playtime for early morning or late afternoon will make the hot summer sun less of a threat by not only reducing the risk
of sunburn, heat illness, and sunstroke, but also the risk of dehydration since the heat will not be quite as intense.
So, what if your child already has sunburn? Don’t despair. Here are some tips that are sure to bring comfort to your little one: Try Applying a cool compress such as a washcloth or towel wet with cool tap water, for ten to fifteen minutes, four or five times a day until the redness fades. In-between these treatments use a moisturizing lotion or a sunburn relief spray that is made for children. The gel from the leaves of an aloe plant is also very helpful in taking the sting out of burns of any kind. To use simply cut the leaf lengthwise and generously smooth the gel over the entire burn. The leaf can be put into the refrigerator and used until the gel is gone from it. This should be repeated about every four hours for as long as is needed.
If your child develops blisters, the pain is or seems to be worse than the usual sunburn sting, or if there is vomiting call your Child’s doctor immediately. He or she may have heat illness. A special prescription of steroid cream may also be needed to help the burn heal, and to minimize the chances of the blisters becoming infected.
Dehydration is yet another of the common, although serious risks that summer can bring. Dehydration occurs when the body’s fluids are lost and not adequately replaced. This can happen when your child sweats during active play. If these fluids are not replaced the outcome could be fatal.
The warning signs of dehydration come on slowly, and are not always obvious. It is important to watch your child closely for any of the following: Dry cracked lips, dark urine, no daytime urination for four hours or more, sunken eyes, extreme fussiness or
sleepiness (this could also be due to hard play and/or lack of a nap), fast heartbeat, difficulty breathing or catching breath, tearless crying, and listlessness. Your child may develop all of them, or just one or two. These symptoms are serious and need immediate medical attention.
On hot days and when your child is active fluid intake should be increased from six to eight six ounce servings to eight to ten or more servings per day. The best fluids to serve are water, milk, and juice. However, too much juice can cause diarrhea therefore making dehydration more likely to occur rather than preventing it. (Serve only natural fruit juices that do not have added sugars. It is best to dilute them with water.) Sports drinks such are all right in most cases. However, drinks that contain high amounts of sugar or caffeine should never be given to a child, especially on very hot days when they could do more harm than good.
Insect bites are probably the most bothersome out of all summer’s risks. Fortunately,
Ants, bees, deer flies and mosquitoes are an annoyance that can easily be avoided. One of the best and safest ways to protect against insect bites is clothing. Try to keep as much of your child covered as is possible, and comfortable. Have him or her wear long sleeve shirts, long pants that are tucked into socks, and of course, shoes. The colors to opt for? Try white, pastel colors, subdued greens, or khaki. These solid shades are less appealing to insects than are the brighter colors, or flashy, flowery prints. Also, try to avoid using scented soaps, perfumes, detergents, lotions, shampoos, and the like during bug season. Insects are attracted to these and similar scents and fragrances. It is also be a good idea to avoid certain areas around your home when the bugs are biting. These areas include damp, swampy places, wooded areas, and spots where brightly colored, atomic flowers, bushes, or tree are planted. The bugs are usually at their worst around dusk so it may be wise to avoid outside play at that time of the day.
Insect repellents will also help to keep the bugs that bug you away. They come in a wide variety of lotions, creams, and sprays that are easy to use and quite effective when used properly. Make sure to only use repellents that are designed especially for children. Watch out for those that contain the chemical DEET, which could be harmful. Products that do contain DEET should have concentrations no higher than ten percent, and should not be used on children under two without the consent of a doctor. Always read the label, or package instructions on how and when to apply before using. Like any other product, if an allergic reaction occurs discontinue use. Check with your child’s doctor if symptoms persist or worsen after discontinuation.
What happens if your child has already been bit? Use calamine lotion to calm the itchy bites such as those of a mosquitoes, gnat, or deer fly. If your child is covered with itchy bites try a colloidal oatmeal bath to bring relief. For a minor bee, wasp, spider, ant, or tick bite wash the affected area well with soap and warm water. (Make sure to rinse well to avoid further irritation.) Apply ice wrapped in a clean towel if there seems to be pain, or if there is swelling. A hydrocortisone cream will stop the itching and reduce the pain. A paste made of baking soda and water can be used as well. Leave the paste on for ten to fifteen minutes or until dry. Reapply as needed.
If you live in an area where poisonous spiders and/or snakes lurk please don’t take any chances. If you did not see the spider or snake that bit your child, or if you are not sure
whether or not it was poisonous, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately. It is always better to be safe than sorry when it is your child’s life at steak.
Two of the most anticipated activities that summer’s heat brings are none other than those of swimming and water play. Unfortunately, out of all of summer’s risks they are also the most dangerous. Hundreds of children if not more die each year from accidental drowning. Here are some ways to make sure that your child doesn’t fall victim: First and most important: NEVER leave a child unattended near water, or any place else. Close adult supervision is not only necessecary at all times, but should be mandatory. A child can drown in as little as an inch of water and it only takes seconds to do so. Supervisors and parents should be familiar with CPR. Sadly, many children’s lives have been lost due to parents and care-givers not knowing CPR.
Devices such as inflatable tubes, rafts, and arm floaters should not be used for very small children. It only takes a second for a child to lose balance, or slip off and into the water and drown. These devices may also give both parent and child a false sense of security. An approved life vest can and should be worn for added protection and water safety. Remember, nothing should ever be used as a replacement of adult supervision.
A couple of smart ideas for increased water safety are: Keep a cordless phone by your side. Have emergency numbers taped to it for quick reference. Also, empty out small pools on a daily basis. This will avoid potential accidents from happening, and ensure proper sanitation.
Summer should be a joyous season that is filled with both fun and laughter, not tragedy. With a few simple preventive measures many unnecessary accidents can be
avoided. Remember to always provide adult supervision at all times whether your child is playing in the back yard, or is near waters edge. When you put together common sense, instincts, and are educated you can help to make your families summer a lot safer and so much more fun. Enjoy the hot summer days; fall will be here before you know it!