Ah, summer. The days are longer, the sun is out, and your kids are probably itching to get out of school and into some summer fun.
As you start to plan those summer getaways and school’s-out adventures, remembering a few ways to keep your kids healthy, happy and safe can mean the difference between a stressful and blissful summer.
Activities in water can be a great way to exercise and have fun with friends. As with any activity, there can be risks involved.
· Drowning is especially prevalent in younger children, but good precautions can be taken to ensure that everyone stays safe. Children should ALWAYS be supervised while swimming, and young children should be watched constantly by a responsible adult to minimize risk. Formal swimming lessons are a great summer activity and can help teach kids a useful skill that can make them safer in the water.
· Water illnesses can put a damper on fun, but there are steps that everyone can take to minimize these risks. Make sure that the pool you are swimming in is clean. You can usually tell this by checking if the drain at the bottom of the deep end is visible. Do your part to help keep the water uncontaminated by avoiding swimming if you are sick and by showering for at least 1 minute before getting in the pool.
· Boating, tubing, and other water sports can be a great way to enjoy some sunshine. Wearing a properly fitting life jacket can help everyone have peace of mind while you soak up the sun.
Speaking of soaking up the sun, do it this summer! Studies shows that spending time outdoors, especially when the sun in shining, can decrease anxiety and depression. You can get all those benefits while still remembering important sun safety measures that will ensure you can continue to enjoy your time outdoors.
· Dress smart for long sun exposure. Rash guards, hats with brims, and sunglasses are great options to help keep harmful rays off you and your child’s skin.
· Use sunscreen every time you go outside. Sunscreens with UVA and UVB protection that include an SPF of at least 30 work best.
· Did you know that babies under 6 months old shouldn’t wear traditional sunscreens? This is because their skin is still maturing and is not quite ready for sunscreen yet. To keep them safe from the sun, try lightweight clothing that covers their arms and legs, brimmed hats, and moving to an area in the shade.
· Avoid using sunscreen combined with DEET insect repellent, as the repellent doesn’t need to be reapplied as much as the sunscreen does.
· The sun’s rays are the strongest from 10am-2p.m. Try to avoid being in direct sunlight in those hours, and no matter what time it is, be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours - more often if your child is spending time in water or is sweating.
· Grab an Aloe Vera plant from your local nursery to keep on hand if you do get a sunburn. Aloe directly from the plant can be more effective than the bottled versions from the store.
Beating the heat
The sun rays aren’t the only thing that can be harmful to children. The heat from a hot summer’s day can introduce risks as well.
· Leaving children in the car can expose them to dangerous levels of heat. On a 70 degree day outside, the temperature inside a car can go up 20 degrees in just ten minutes. Even if the windows are open, the temperature inside a car can still get too high for them. Always remove infants, children, and pets from your car when getting out.
· Keep an eye out for children under 4, as they can be at a greater risk for heat-related illnesses
· Use cool showers or baths to help keep body temperatures down
Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors, take a break, and spend extra time with your kids. Make sure you stay safe this summer!