With summer just around the corner, it’s perfect timing to share some summer tips to keep you and the family safe this upcoming season. So with thanks from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), here are some important guidelines (and my usual two cents) to live by this upcoming summer…
Fun in the Sun:
• Under 6 months: the recommendation is to avoid sun exposure and dress infants in appropriate clothing based on the temperature. But what I tell my parents (and the AAP agrees) is if shade is not always available, ok to use a minimal amount of sunscreen (at least 15 SPF) to areas that might be exposed.
• Older children: Still recommend covering up (e.g. hat with a brim, sunglasses that provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays) and looking for shade. But best to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outdoors and reapplication is needed about every 2 hours (more frequent if swimming or exercising) on both sunny and cloudy days. Remember, peak hours are between 10AM and 4PM.
• Firstly, never ever leave children alone in or near around a pool, spa, etc… Never.
• If you have a pool, at least a 4 foot high fence is needed where no openings would allow for a child to get through, under, or over. And may sure the gates, self-close and self-latch at the highest possible height.
• Always remember to have rescue equipment near the pool (life preserver included).
• “Floaties” are a swimming aid but they are not to be substituted for a life vest. When infants or toddlers are near the water, an adult (hopefully with appropriate training) should be within arm’s length.
• As I’ve reported before, children 1-4 years of age who have had some type of swimming instruction are at a lower risk of drowning. But remember, swim programs are not “drown proofing” for a child of any age.
• Do not use a pool or spa if any broken of missing drain covers. If not sure, ask your pool operator.
• Life jackets are a must…whether on the boats or near the water. And please make sure the life jacket is appropriately sized.
Open Water Swimming (e.g. ocean, lake, river):
• To stress the first point mentioned above, toys, rafts, air mattresses, etc… are not to be used in place of life jackets.
• And parents, you should be wearing life jackets as well (for your safety and to set a good example...just like wearing a helmet when bicycle riding).
• And no matter the age, we all need to be aware of the dangers of boating when under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and even some prescription medications. They don’t mix.
• Have a buddy… never swim alone.
Exercising when it is Hot:
• Rather obvious but always worth reminding that a lifeguard (particularly when ocean swimming) or other adult who is in the know about water rescue needs to be watching children whenever they are near or in the water. Younger children should be in arm’s length of the supervising adult.
• Never allow a child to dive without knowing the depth of the water and whether any underwater objects exist.
• Avoid canals or any fast moving water.
• Hydrate. Your child should not feel thirsty. For mild exercise and within the first hour of exercise, water alone is fine. For more strenuous activity (and feel free to read my previous blog about sports drinks), either water and/or a sports drink is acceptable. A general rule of thumb is after an hour of more strenuous activity, the sports drinks are fine to use.
• Wear light-colored and lightweight clothing. Change regularly out of sweat-saturated shirts and into dry clothing.
• With high heat and/or humidity levels, reduce the intensity of activities lasting more than 15 minutes. That is, more breaks and more hydration.
So while enjoying the summer fun, please remember these tips to keep you and your children safe.