For most children, summer means plenty of fun and outside play. But summer can spell trouble if we’re not careful! With children out of school, some injuries become way more common during the summer months. Here’s our short and sweet summer safety guide for keeping your kiddos safe while having a blast!
What are Common Summer Injuries?
As pediatricians, we love to see children spending time outside. But more outside play can also mean more opportunities to get hurt. Here are some of the most common injuries and illnesses we see:
- Broken bones and sprains
- Swimming injuries and drowning
- Heat-related illness and dehydration
- Bee and wasp stings and insect and tick bites
How Can My Child Stay Safe this Summer?
It’s an active time of year, full of running, playing, biking and other activities. But risk can be reduced with some basic precautions:
- Stay hydrated and remember that water (not sports drinks) is the best way to hydrate
- Watch for heat advisories and help your children set limits when playing in hot weather
- Make activities safer with basic precautions. For example, wear bike helmets and use wrist guards when skating.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics singles out trampolines as one of the most common causes of injuries, so some parents prefer to avoid these altogether.
- Make sure older children use the buddy system when playing outdoors without adult supervision.
- Use an Environmental Protection Agency approved insect repellent as recommended by the Centers For Disease Control.
- Use sunscreen (more on this below).
- Take precautions at the pool and make sure your child learns to swim.
Why Is It So Important For My Child To Learn How to Swim?
Many parents don’t realize it, but according to the AAP, drowning is the leading cause of death for children, including infants and toddlers. Making sure that your child learns how to swim is one of the most important investments of time and money that you can make. Swim lessons are available at most community pools at a reasonable cost, often for children as young as 2 or 3. Learning to swim give your child a valuable life skill and sense of confidence. However, parents should keep an eye on even accomplished swimmers as children with swim skills can get into trouble in crowded pools.
Here are some additional pool safety tips from the AAP:
- Never leave children unattended in a pool.
- Home pools should have a four-foot high, four-sided unclimbable fence.
- Parents, caregivers and pool owners should learn CPR.
Why Is Sunscreen Important?
Protecting your child from potentially cancer-causing rays at an early age is essential. We recommend covering up when you can, especially with young children. This can include cotton clothing, hats with brims and swim shirts. But we know that kiddos shed layers as they get older, and sunscreen is an important tool for keeping them protected.
Here are some tips from the AAP for sun safety:
- Use a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against both types of ultraviolet rays (UVA/UVB).
- Use a sunscreen of at least 15 SPF, and reapply every two hours.
- Try extra-strong zinc oxide as extra protection for the face
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going into the sun for maximum effect
- The AAP now suggests avoiding sunscreen with oxybenzone, a chemical that may have hormonal properties, so check the ingredients on the bottle. There are more options than ever for finding a safe, effective sunscreen!
- If your child gets a sunburn that results in blistering, pain or fever, contact your pediatrician’s office.
What’s The Right Way To Check For Ticks?
Our patients are more concerned than ever about keeping kids safe from Lyme Disease and other tick-transmitted illnesses. And while we don’t discourage folks from heading outside because of ticks, we do recommend using a recommended bug repellent and taking precautions to keep kids tick-free. The Centers For Disease Control offers some tips for checking for ticks when children come in from spending time outside. The CDC recommends a full body check including:
- Under the arms
- In and around the ears
- Inside belly button
- Back of the knees
- In and around the hair
- Between the legs
- Around the waist
The CDC also recommends checking clothing for ticks. If you find an attached tick, grab the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pull it out. Clean the bite area and your hands with soap and water or rubbing alcohol, and dispose of live ticks by flushing them down the toilet or placing in a sealed bag or covering tightly with tape. Watch for rash or fever, and contact your pediatrician if either of those signs occurs.
Summer Fun–The Safe Way
Pediatricians want kids outside; the benefits of fresh air and exercise generally outweigh the risks. But summer can present dangers that we don’t often see during the school year. Fortunately, with a few simple precautions, the right information and a little vigilance from mom and dad, children can have fun, be themselves and stay safe.