As summer approaches, it’s time for families to enjoy the warm weather and outdoor activities. While summer is a season of fun and adventure, it’s essential to prioritize safety to ensure that children have a healthy and injury-free season. At the Pediatric Center, we care deeply about the well-being of your children. Here are some crucial summer safety tips to keep in mind.

1. Sun Protection

The summer sun can be harsh, and protecting your child’s skin is paramount.

  • Use Sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 on your child’s skin 15-30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours, or more often if swimming or sweating. For infants under six months, it’s best to avoid direct sun exposure. If unavoidable, apply a small amount of sunscreen with at least SPF 15 to small areas like the face and back of the hands.
  • Choose Child-Friendly Sunscreen: Look for sunscreens specially formulated for children. These are often free from harmful chemicals and are less likely to irritate sensitive skin. Mineral-based sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are excellent choices as they sit on top of the skin and provide a physical barrier against UV rays.
  • Wear Protective Clothing: Dress your child in lightweight, long-sleeved shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats to shield their skin from harmful UV rays. Rash guards are great for additional protection during water activities.
  • Seek Shade: Encourage your children to play in shaded areas, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest. Use umbrellas, tents, or canopies to create shade when at the beach or park.
  • Educate Older Children: Teach older children about the importance of sun protection and how to apply sunscreen themselves. Make it a routine part of their outdoor activities.

2. Hydration

Keeping your child hydrated is crucial, especially during hot summer days.

  • Encourage Regular Water Intake: Make sure your child drinks water regularly, even if they don’t feel thirsty. Dehydration can happen quickly in the heat.
  • Avoid Sugary Drinks: Limit the intake of sugary drinks and caffeine, as they can contribute to dehydration.
  • Eat Hydrating Foods: Include water-rich fruits and vegetables like watermelon, cucumber, and oranges in their diet.

3. Water Safety

Whether it’s a pool, lake, or ocean, water safety is vital.

  • Supervise at All Times: Always keep a close eye on children when they are near or in the water. Drowning can occur in just a few minutes and in shallow water.
  • Learn to Swim: Enroll your child in swimming lessons. Knowing how to swim can be a lifesaving skill.
  • Use Life Jackets: Ensure children wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets when boating or participating in water sports.
  • Teach Water Rules: Educate your children about the dangers of water, including the importance of not running near pools and not diving in shallow areas.

4. Insect Protection

Summer is prime time for insects, including mosquitoes and ticks, which can carry diseases.

  • Use Insect Repellent: Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus to your child’s exposed skin and clothing. Avoid applying repellent to infants younger than two months.
  • Avoid Peak Insect Hours: Try to avoid outdoor activities during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Check for Ticks: After playing outside, especially in wooded or grassy areas, check your child for ticks. Remove any ticks promptly and carefully.

5. Playground Safety

Playgrounds are a great place for children to burn off energy, but safety is key.

  • Inspect Playground Equipment: Ensure the equipment is in good condition and that the surfaces are safe and soft, like wood chips or rubber mats.
  • Dress Appropriately: Remove drawstrings and other cords from clothing that can get caught on equipment.
  • Follow Playground Rules: Teach children to use equipment properly and to wait their turn to avoid accidents.

6. Heat-Related Illness Prevention

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are serious risks during the summer months.

  • Know the Signs: Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, weakness, cold, pale and clammy skin, and fainting. Heatstroke symptoms include a high body temperature, hot, dry skin, rapid pulse, and possible unconsciousness.
  • Take Breaks: Ensure your child takes regular breaks in the shade or indoors to cool down.
  • Dress Appropriately: Light-colored, loose-fitting clothing helps keep the body cool.

7. Travel Safety

Summer often means road trips and vacations.

  • Use Car Seats: Ensure that your child is in the appropriate car seat or booster seat for their age, weight, and height.
  • Never Leave Children in Cars: Never leave your child unattended in a car, even for a short period. Cars can heat up rapidly, leading to heatstroke.
  • Plan Ahead: Keep snacks, water, and entertainment on hand to make travel more enjoyable and safer.

At the Pediatric Center, we believe that a little preparation can go a long way in ensuring a safe and enjoyable summer for your children. Follow these tips to keep your kids healthy and happy all season long. If you have any questions or need further guidance, don’t hesitate to contact the Pediatric Center. We are here for you and your family when you need us with extended hours on nights and weekends as well as in-house labs and x-rays to help your family get healthy and stay healthy. Contact us at our Idaho Falls location at (208) 523-3060 or our Rigby location (208) 745-8927, to set up your appointment. Have a safe and happy summer!