Published on June 19, 2013

Summer Safety Tips For Kids

Keep kids safe this summer with these tips from Genesis Health Group pediatricians and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Protect Your Skin

Babies under 6 months:
• Avoid sun exposure, and dress infants in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and brimmed hats that shade the neck to prevent sunburn. A minimal  amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) can be applied to infant's face and the back of the hands. If an infant gets sunburn, apply cold compresses to the affected area.

For Young Children:
• Apply sunscreen of 15 SPF or higher at least 30 minutes before going outside, and use sunscreen even on cloudy days. Reapply sunscreen after children are in the water and limit total minutes of sun exposure.

For Older Children:
• Here is a forceful message for older children: Sun overexposure causes aging of the skin and increases risk of skin cancer. The best prevention is to cover exposed areas, wear a hat and sunglasses. 
• Stay in the shade whenever possible, and limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours - between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater. Be sure to apply enough sunscreen - about one ounce per sitting for a young adult.
• Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
• Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand as they reflect UV rays and may result in sunburn more quickly.

Handling The Heat

• The intensity of activities should be reduced in high heat and humidity.
• Before prolonged physical activity, the child should be well-hydrated. During the activity, periodic drinking should be enforced, for example, each 20 minutes, 5 oz of cold tap water or a flavored sports drink for a child weighing 90 lbs, and 9 oz for an adolescent weighing 130 lbs, even if the child does not feel thirsty.
• Encourage kids to take a break from outdoor activities on the hottest days. Go inside and play games, cards, or watch a video.
• Clothing should be light-colored and lightweight and limited to one layer of absorbent material to facilitate evaporation of sweat.
• Practices and games played in the heat should be shortened and more frequent water/hydration breaks should be instituted.

Around The Pool

• A fence at least four-feet high around all four sides of a family pool. The fence should not have openings or protrusions that a young child could use to get over, under, or through.
• Make sure pool gates open out from the pool, and self-close and self-latch at a height children can't reach.
• Never leave children alone in or near the pool.
• Keep rescue equipment near the pool.
• Know CPR for infants and adults.
• Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within arm's length, providing "touch supervision."

Bug Safety

• Don't use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your child.
• Avoid areas where insects nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and gardens where flowers are in bloom.
• To remove a visible stinger from skin, gently scrape it off horizontally with a credit card or your fingernail.
• Insect repellents containing DEET are most effective against ticks, which can transmit Lyme Disease, and mosquitoes, which can transmit West Nile Virus and other viruses.
• The current CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation for children over 2 months of age is to use 30 percent DEET. DEET should not be used on children under 2 months of age.
• The concentration of DEET in products may range from less than 10 percent to over 30 percent. Ten percent DEET only protects for about 30 minutes – inadequate for most outings.

On The Playground

• The playground should have safety-tested mats or loose-fill materials (shredded rubber, sand, wood chips, or bark) maintained to a depth of at least 9 inches.
• Equipment should be carefully maintained. Open “s” hooks or protruding bolt ends can be hazardous.
• Swing seats should be made of soft materials such as rubber, plastic or canvas.
• Make sure children cannot reach any moving parts that might pinch or trap any body part.
• Never attach—or allow children to attach—ropes, jump ropes, leashes, or similar items to play equipment; children can strangle on these.
• Make sure metal slides are cool to prevent children's legs from getting burned.
• Parents should supervise children on play equipment to make sure they are safe.

On Two Wheels

• Do not push your child to ride a 2-wheeled bike until he or she is ready, at about age 5 or 6. Consider the child's coordination and desire to learn to ride. Stick with coaster (foot) brakes until your child is older and more experienced for hand brakes.
• Take your child with you when you shop for the bike, so that he or she can try it out. The value of a properly fitting bike far outweighs the value of surprising your child with a new one. Buy a bike that is the right size, not one your child has to "grow into." Oversized bikes are especially dangerous.
• Require helmet use. It’s simple, “you don’t ride without one.’’ Adults should lead by example by also wearing a helmet.

Skateboards, Scooters and Skating

• Children should never ride skateboards or scooters in or near traffic.
• All skateboarders and scooter-riders should wear a helmet and other protective gear; wrist guards are particularly important.
• Skate parks are available in many communities. Limit skateboards and inline skating to parks designed for the activity.

Around The Yard

• Children younger than 16 years should not be allowed to use ride-on mowers. Children younger than 12 years should not use walk-behind mowers.
• Make sure that sturdy shoes are worn while mowing.
• Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins. Have anyone who uses a mower wear hearing and eye protection.
• Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.
• Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas.
• Do not allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers.

Fireworks Safety

• Do not allow young children to play with fireworks under any circumstances.
• Older children should only be permitted to use legal fireworks under close, adult supervision.
• Light fireworks outdoors in areas clear of houses, dry leaves, grass or flammable materials.
• Do not smoke while handling fireworks.
• Have water available nearby for emergencies.
• Be sure people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
• Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting.
• Don’t experiment with homemade fireworks.
• Do not try to relight “duds.’’
• Don’t place fireworks in containers before lighting.
• Alcohol and fireworks are a dangerous combination.

There is a series of kid-friendly videos and other summer safety information at www.genesishealth.com/summer.

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