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Summer Safety: A Few Pointers for Happy and Healthy Fun in the Sun

Our spring was dominated by rain and more rain, but wonderful summer weather has arrived!  Here are a few pointers for keeping our children safe when it’s time for outdoor frolicking.

Sun Exposure

According to the skin cancer foundation, one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life. A person’s risk for melanoma also doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns at any age.  We are especially at risk for burn considering our high altitude.  Here are some tips for avoiding sunburn:

  • The best way to avoid sunburn is to cover up with hat, long sleeves, and long pants.
  • When that is not practical, using sunblock of SPF 15 or greater with UVA and UVB protection is recommended for everyone over 6 months of age.
  • Remember to reapply every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating.
  • Sun is at its strongest from 10am-4pm.
  • Check out the Environmental Working Group’s guide to safe sunscreens to look for an option that is the healthiest with the best protection at http://www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/

Heat Safety

When it heats up, the same amount of exertion will require much more water intake.  Be sure to have children drinking plenty of fluids before sports or activities and to always have a large water bottle with ice to drink during activities.

Pool Safety

It is great to cool down in the pool, but here are a few pointers to remember when you’re swimming with your children:

  • Small children should NEVER be left unattended at the pool and should always be within arms length of a responsible adult.
  • 1 to 4 year olds with swimming instruction are still at risk for drowning and should always be attended.
  • If you have a pool, make sure it is surrounded by at least a 4 foot fence and a locked gate.
  • “Floaties” or other floatation devices not approved by the US Coast Guard will not prevent drowning and should be avoided.

Insects

Insect bites are a common price to pay for beautiful hikes and camping.  Here are some tips for avoiding them and dealing with them when they occur:

  • For bee and wasp stings, scrape the remaining stinger out quickly with a card or fingernail. If you squeeze it, you should accidentally release more venom and make the sting more painful.
  • Treat with ice at first and then over-the-counter hydrocortisone 1% cream if needed. Stings can be red and painful for 7-10 days.
  • While on hikes, avoid tick bites by wearing long pants.
  • Remove ticks by using fine tweezers and grasping the tick by the head. Do not use alternative techniques, such as fire!
  • The AAP and CDC currently recommend for children older than 2 months of age to use 10-30% DEET.
  • DEET is similarly effective for 10% to 30%, but 10% DEET provides protection for about 2 hours and 30% protects for about 5 hours. Choose the lowest concentration that will provide the required length of coverage.
  • Picaridin is an alternative to DEET, available in concentrations of 5 and 10%.

Helmets

Whenever your child is on a bike, skateboard, scooter or other fast moving toy, please make sure that a helmet is fastened appropriately.  Concussions are on the rise; please protect your child’s precious head!  And remember if the helmet was involved in an accident, it has served its purpose and needs to be replaced.

Lauren Brave, MD

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