Summer is a great time to be a kid! It's also a time when children are more likely to be injured or fall prey to heat-related illness. Doylestown Health's Lead Pediatric Hospitalist will present a free program about summer safety on June 2. Here he offers some tips for keeping your family safe this summer.
Staying Safe in the Sun
Kids are outside -- a lot -- in the summer and need to be protected from the sun's harmful UV rays. Just a few serious sunburns can increase you and your child's risk of skin cancer later in life, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Proper protection from the sun includes covering up. "If you can't see your hand on the inside of the clothing, it should effectively screen out UV rays," said Jason Komasz, MD, Lead Pediatric Hospitalist with Doylestown Health's Della Penna Pediatric Center.
Sun Protection Tips
- Avoid the strongest rays of the day between 10am and 4pm
- Keep babies under 6 months out of the sun entirely
- Choose a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher
- Don't use sunscreen with PABA (it can cause skin allergies)
- Use products with titanium oxide for sensitive skin
- Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before going outside
- Apply generously and reapply often (at least every two hours), even on cloudy days
- Have children wear protective eyewear that provides 100% UV protection
- Protect lips with SPF 30 lip balm
- If you want to go with a pure zinc oxide product, it contains at least 25 percent.
Dehydration and Heat-Related Illnesses
Heat illness and dehydration can lead to serious trouble for kids. Types of heat illness include heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which is a real medical emergency.
"There is a lot of moisture in the air in the hot weather and we don't lose as much heat through sweating like we normally do," said Dr. Komasz. "Kids are at higher risk for heat illness when they are not drinking enough fluids."
- Drink plenty of fluids before and during activity in hot sunny weather, even if the child isn't thirsty
- Teach kids to come indoors, rest and hydrate if they feel overheated
- Always keep plenty of water on hand when kids are playing or exercising outside. Water or sports drinks should be available and kids should take a break to drink every 20 minutes.
Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4.
"Never swim alone," said Dr. Komasz. "Always swim with supervision."
And don't rely on those cute little inflatable floaters that go on the child's arms for protection. "Children should wear a proper-fitting, Coast Guard-approved life preserver or flotation device," said Dr. Komasz.
- Children need constant supervision around water
- Infants, toddlers and weak swimmers should have an adult swimmer within arms reach
- Children less than 5 years old should have a vest with a strap between the legs and head support
Bicycle Safety Tips
No helmet? No biking. Period. That goes for parents as well as youngsters.
"Helmets should always be worn regardless of age," said Dr. Komasz. "Most bike accidents involve head injuries."
Choose a helmet that fits properly and has a Consumer Product Safety Commission or Snell Memorial Foundation sticker inside. Replace any helmet made before 1999.
Dr. Komasz advises parents to teach their kids to follow the rules of the road and obey traffic signs.
When biking, kids should never:
- Ride at dusk or in the dark
- Wear headphones while riding
- Share a seat with a friend or ride on the handlebars
Summer Safety Program
"Safety is important all year, but there are more opportunities for children to get hurt during the summer," notes Dr. Komasz. "Once it gets warm, everybody's out and about."
Dr. Komasz plans to discuss the basics plus a whole lot more during his upcoming program, which also covers bug bites and stings, poison ivy, yard safety and playground safety.
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