The peak of summer is a fun time for kids and family members alike. This time of year is filled with barbeques, pool parties, outdoor activities and other fun things. I remember my childhood summertime back in India. We used to visit my maternal grandmother’s house, and we would play outside all day, every day – hiding behind shrubs, climbing trees, and chasing street puppies and baby goats. At night, we used to sleep on the terrace watching the night sky and trees covered with fireflies. We all have our favorite summertime memories – and it is important to make this season enjoyable and safe for our kids by following these summer safety tips.
Critters can be a nuisance during summertime. Just like us, they are also having fun and exploring their surroundings. Under two months of age, insect repellents are not recommended, and we advise either full sleeves be worn or applying some natural essential oils on baby’s clothes near the ankle and wrist area. You may try eucalyptus, Citronella, geranium, or peppermint spray on the clothes to deter bugs. DEET sprays may be used on children ages two months and older, making sure not to exceed 30% concentration. Sometimes, even apple cider vinegar works to keep bugs away!
During the summer months, it is very important to follow sun protection routines when we are outside. The most important tip is to avoid being out in the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. I recommend wearing 100% cotton clothing, which allows sweat to evaporate. Wide-brimmed hats can help shield the face, ears, and the back of the neck from direct sunlight. Sunglasses with UV protection will prevent at least 99% of harmful UV ray exposure to the eyes.
Keep babies under six months of age out of direct sunlight. Make sure they are wearing full-length clothing to avoid sunburn. Keeping babies under a shade, such as a stroller canopy of an umbrella, will help protect their sensitive skin as well.
Drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration. Eating local, seasonal fruits and vegetables that are high in water content, such as cucumber, zucchini, lettuce, celery, tomato, watermelon, cantaloupe, and berries, can also help keep children hydrated. Babies less than six months old may have breast milk, formula, or Pedialyte as their source of fluids.
People with a lighter skin tone are more susceptible to sunburn compared to people with a darker skin tone – especially people who have blonde or red hair and/or light-colored eyes. Each time we get a sunburn, the impacts on our skin last and accumulate over time. Everyone should be using sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and reapplying a generous amount of sunscreen every two hours when outdoors. Always make sure to use broad-spectrum sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and try to avoid sunscreen which has Oxybenzone listed as an ingredient.
The signs of sunburn usually appear 6-12 hours after exposure. The first 24 hours are usually the worst in terms of discomfort. I recommend staying out of the sun until fully healed. If the sunburn is just red, warm, and slightly painful, you can apply a cool compress or bathe the child in cool water. You can also give Tylenol or acetaminophen for pain relief. Offer lots of fluids or Pedialyte to rehydrate. You may also consider applying calamine lotion to the sunburn.
If a sunburn is severe enough to cause blistering, fever, chills or headache, call your pediatrician. Cases of severe sunburn must be treated like any other serious burn.
Water safety is extremely important for families who enjoy their summertime near any body of water. As much fun as it is, we must remember the fact that children can drown in a matter of moments. Death and injury from drowning happen every day in home pools, hot tubs, rivers, lakes, oceans, and even buckets.
Drowning is the leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 4 years old. We lose approximately 3 children per day to drowning during the summer months. For every child who dies from drowning, another 5 receive emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
Adults should provide close and constant attention to children while they are around the water, and at least one adult should be watching the kids without getting distracted over the phone or in conversation.
Teach children to always ask permission to go near water, and they should always wear life jackets. If you are at the beach, always swim in a life guarded area, swim with a buddy, and be aware of deep spots in lakes, oceans and rivers. If you are on a boat, make sure everyone is wearing a life jacket.
A favorite summertime routine of many people is cooking outdoors on grills. Keep children away from hot outdoor grills, and make sure they are never near grills or campfires alone. Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies, and a fire extinguisher should always be on hand and easy to reach.
I hope this summer and in the years to come, you will make many memories with your families and friends. Remember: precaution is better than cure. Have a fabulous rest of summer and stay safe!