It's that time of year again. School is almost out, the weather is getting warmer, and everyone is enjoying the outdoors. Here are a few tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Cancer Society to keep your kids safe and healthy this summer.
Being outside is great for the mind and body. Outside is great for exercise and the sunshine is a good source of Vitamin D. However, too much sun can be harmful because of UV (ultraviolet) rays that are produced. UV rays can reflect off surfaces such as water and sand and increase the chance of sunburn. They best way to limit sun exposure to avoid sunburn is to cover up when outside. Sunglasses, lightweight long-sleeved shirts and pants, and wide-brimmed hats can all be used. If your skin is not covered be sure to apply sunscreen. Sunscreen with at least an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 should be used. Applying sunscreen correctly makes a difference (1 palm full of sunscreen should cover the arms/legs, face/neck of an average adult). Spray-on sunscreen should be sprayed evenly over all exposed areas of the skin to include the head and scalp. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours and after swimming or sweating. Peak sun exposure time is between 10am-4pm, so during this time try to find some shade.
Stay hydrated! Kids are active and when they are in the heat it is important that they always have access to water. Make sure water or a sports drink is always readily accessible. Take more frequent breaks when activity in the heat occurs longer than twenty minutes. If at any time a child is feeling dizzy, nauseated, or lightheaded they should be moved to shade and given water.
Summer is also time for swimming at the pool, in the lake, or just playing in the sprinkler in the backyard. The number one rule is to never leave your child alone near a body of water. Never swim alone, the "buddy system" is a good way to increase safety with swimming. They best way to prevent drowning is by close adult supervision. Anytime you are by water it is a good idea to have someone around that knows how to swim and perform CPR in case of an emergency. Life vests should always be worn while boating. The common inflatable arm rings also known as "floaties" are not a substitute for life vests. These can actually be a negative when swimming because it can give children and parents a false sense of security. Swimming is an essential skill and it is important to get your child comfortable with water at an early age to minimize fear of the water and give them confidence. Swimming lessons are readily available and should be utilized if needed.
Have fun and be safe this summer!