by Russel McKenna, DO, pediatrician, Treehouse Clinic
Keep your family safe this summer by following these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
- Be cautious. Even fireworks that are often thought to be safe, such as sparklers, can reach temperatures above 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, and can result in severe burns, blindness, scars and even death.
- Use insect repellents containing DEET to prevent insect-related diseases.
- Children older than 2 months of age can use 10 to three percent DEET. DEET should not be used on children younger than 2 months of age.
- The effectiveness is similar for 10 to 30 percent DEET, but the duration of effect varies. Ten percent DEET provides protection for about two hours, and 30 percent protects for about five hours. Choose the lowest concentration that will provide the required coverage.
- Children should wash off repellents when they return indoors.
- When outside in the evenings or when there are a lot of mosquitoes present, cover up with long sleeved shirts, pants and socks to prevent bites.
- Helmets protect from serious injury, and should always be worn.
- Look for a label or sticker that says helmets meet CPSC safety standards.
- A helmet should be worn so that it is level on the head and covers the forehead, not tipped forward or backwards. The strap should be securely fastened with about two fingers able to fit between chin and strap. The helmet should be snug on the head, but not overly tight. Skin should move with the helmet when moved side to side.
- Children who are too young to have a driver’s license should not be allowed to operate or ride off-road vehicles.
- Don’t ride double. Passengers are frequently injured when riding ATVs.
- All ATV riders should take a hands-on safety training course.
- All riders should wear helmets, eye protection, sturdy shoes (no flip-flops) and protective, reflective clothing. Appropriate helmets are those designed for motorcycle (not bicycle) use, and should include safety visors/face shields for eye protection.
- Young drivers should be discouraged from on-road riding of any two-wheeled motorized cycle, even when they are able to be licensed to do so, because they are inherently more dangerous than passenger cars.
LAWN MOWER SAFETY
- Use a mower with a control that stops the mower blade if the handle is let go.
- Children younger than 16 should not be allowed to use ride-on mowers. Children younger than 12 should not use walk-behind mowers.
- Wear sturdy shoes are while mowing.
FUN IN THE SUN
Babies under 6 months:
- The two main recommendations from the AAP to prevent sunburn are to avoid sun exposure, and to dress infants in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts and brimmed hats that shade the neck to prevent sunburn. However, when adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) to small areas, such as the infant’s face and the back of the hands. If an infant gets sunburn, apply cool compresses to the affected area.
For all other children:
- The first, and best, line of defense against harmful ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure is covering up. Stay in the shade whenever possible, and limit sun exposure during the peak hours.
- Wear a hat with a three-inch brim or a bill facing forward, sunglasses and clothing with a tight weave.
- Use a sunscreen with SPF 15 or greater.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
- Use extra caution near water and sand and snow as they reflect UV rays.
HEAT STRESS IN EXERCISING CHILDREN
- Intensity of activities that last 15 minutes or more should be reduced in high heat or humidity levels.
- Before outdoor physical activities, children should drink freely and should not feel thirsty. Kids should always have water or a sports drink available, and drink every 20 minutes.
- Practices and games played in the heat should be shortened, and there should be more frequent water/hydration breaks. Children should promptly move to cooler environments if they feel dizzy, lightheaded or nauseated.
- Never leave children alone in or near water; close supervision is the best way to prevent drowning.
- Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties.” They are not a substitute for approved life jackets, and can give a false sense of security.
- Avoid entrapment: Suction from pool and spa drains can trap a swimmer underwater. Do not use a pool or spa if there are broken drain covers.
- If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first.
- Children should wear life jackets at all times when on boats, docks or near bodies of water.
- Make sure life jacket are the right size. Jackets should not be loose, and should be worn as instructed with all straps belted.
OPEN WATER SWIMMING
- Never swim alone. Even good swimmers need buddies!
- A lifeguard (or another adult who knows about water rescue) needs to be watching children whenever they are in or near the water. Younger children should be closely supervised while in or near the water —use “touch supervision,” keeping no more than an arm’s length away.
- Make sure your child knows never to dive into water except when permitted by an adult who knows the depth of the water, and who has checked for underwater objects.
- Never let your child swim in canals or any fast moving water.