Summer is a great time for kids to enjoy fun outdoor activities that promote physical health and exercise. Whether you have young children or teens, learn ways to keep your kids healthy and safe while they have an outstanding summer!
Beat the heat and the sun.
Let’s face the facts: the summer, while fun, is a hot sticky mess! Heat-related illness happens when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. According to the CDC, infants and children up to 4 years of age are at the greatest risk of suffering from heatstroke and dehydration. We’ve compiled a few quick tips for you to follow that will work to ensure your children avoid falling victim to the summer’s extreme temperatures:
- The hot car: Never ever leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open. Never! This seems like a simple one, but you’d be surprised how quickly a hot car can lead to a child suffering from heat exhaustion, or even death. There is no safe amount of time to leave children alone in the car. Even a few minutes in a hot car can be fatal. So just don’t do it, ever!
- Proper dress: Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Know your day and consider how long you’ll be outside for. Bring shorts, sunglasses, hats, and even umbrellas to create a source of shade to escape the heat.
- Know your day: Schedule your outdoor activities carefully, for morning and evening hours. Try to avoid the direct sunlight during peak hours (between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM). There’s no need to be in a scorching hot park mid zenith, wait a few hours for it to cool down. I know my kids turn into a literal hot mess when they are overheated. Planning accordingly will help to deter the heat and cranky moods!
- Sunscreen: sunscreen and more sunscreen! Sunscreen is a must (on sunny and cloudy days)! The American Academy of Pediatrics and American Association of Dermatology recommend using products with UVA and UVB protection and an SPF of at least 15. Sunscreen should be applied liberally 30 minutes before going out in the sun, and reapplied every two hours or sooner if swimming, sweating or toweling off.
- The power of hydration: drink, drink, and drink some more! Keeping hydrated is essential to keeping kids healthy, especially when you are out and about playing in the hot sun. Children (and adults) must remember to drink, and not just anything: good old-fashioned water! Don’t wait until a child says he is thirsty before offering fluids. At this point, he is already dehydrated, so be sure to provide plenty of fluids before going outside, while out in the heat and afterward. Increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. When you are extremely active in a hot environment, your body sweats and requires more fluids to maintain its core temperature. According to Live Science, you should be drinking at least two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of water each hour that you are outside in the hot sun.
Quit bugging me!
The summer brings so many pesky little insects looking to leave their mark! Be sure to remember the bug spray! Insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, and spiders enjoy the summer weather just as much as we do. Unfortunately, bites from these insects can cause illness and infection.
This summer all eyes and ears are on the lookout for those pesky little mosquitos. Mosquitos can transmit viruses such as West Nile and Zika virus. Be sure to back your bug spray if you’re traveling to any warm or tropical regions. If you heading into the woods, be on the lookout for ticks. Ticks can transmit diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. With temperatures rising around the globe, the CDC predicts that new cases of the Zika Virus and other mosquito-borne illness will continue to rise as well. Just be prepared, and have that insect repellent ready. Not a fan of chemicals to keep those bugs from biting? Recently, the CDC added natural Oil of lemon eucalyptus to the list of acceptable and functional insect repellants. It’s 100% natural and smells great too!
For more information on the Zika Virus, and other insect-borne illness check out What’s the Deal With the Zika Virus?
Make a splash with water safety!
What better way to enjoy summer fun than with a cool dip in the community pool, or visit to the local splash pad or water park? Water slides, lazy rivers, and wading pools keep the young (and old) cool and refreshed all season long. While splashing in a pool is a sure way to have some summer fun, it’s important to make safety a priority to protect children safe in and around the water area. The harsh reality is that every summer children of all ages experience life altering injuries and death as a result of avoidable water-related accidents.
According to the CDC, drowning is a leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4, and the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages. For toddlers (children ages 1 to 4 years), swimming pools pose the greatest risk of submersion injury. In fact, it takes less than two inches of water for a young child to drown. Additionally, for every child under the age of 15 who dies from drowning in a pool, another 10 receive emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries. Nonfatal injuries can cause brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities including memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functions.
Wait, what? Death and traumatic brain injury from the swimming pool? It’s a harsh reality but there’s no need to panic and yank your kids from the just pool. The good news is that drowning and all of the above can easily be prevented. The number one deterrent to pool related death and injury is adult supervision. Be present and be aware, not only of your children but of all the children around you. Sure, there may be a lifeguard on duty but ultimately you serve as an additional set of eyes and ears to protect every swimmer from potential danger.
First and foremost, children need to learn to swim. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting formal swimming lessons as young as age one, citing that the “participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by as much as 88% among young children aged 1 to 4 years.” Some of the most effective ways to prevent drowning include four-sided fencing, swimming lessons, life jackets, and supervision/lifeguarding. Knowing CPR can also save the life of someone who drowns. For the best protection, combine several safety measures to significantly reduce drowning risks. Following these basic precautions and steps can help to ensure a fun summer pool experience.
Most kids can’t wait for summer vacation! However, along with school vacation, warm weather, and outdoor sports comes an extra dose of responsibility for parents. As the temperature rises, so does the risk of illnesses and injuries from swimming and other outdoor play. Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14 in the U.S, but summer shouldn’t be a scary time or a time spent in the hospital. By taking some extra measures, parents can make sure more time is spent poolside than bedside this summer.