Summer Safety Tips: How to Protect Your Kids from Seasonal Threats
For most families, summer is synonymous with fun in the sun. Whether your summer will involve traveling to exotic destinations, enjoying low-stress staycations, or both, you’ll still need to contend with some unwelcomed summer threats. So be prepared this summer and heed the following summer safety tips to keep your family protected and comfortable while you’re enjoying the great outdoors!
As summer vacation approaches, there’s an anticipatory buzz in the air while kids count down the days until school’s out and summer begins. Unfortunately, a less welcome buzz is pervasive throughout summer: mosquitoes.
Experts recommend protecting your kids from itchy bites and the threat of West Nile Virus by having them apply an insect repellent containing seven to ten percent DEET. The most effective way to apply insect repellent is squirting it into your hands and rubbing it onto the skin (rather than spraying it onto your body and clothes), paying close attention to the ankles, elbows, wrists, and forehead. Wearing clothes that are light in color and made of tightly woven fabric (like what’s often used in technical athletic wear) will also reduce the risk of mosquito bites.
Especially if your summer plans involve camping or hiking, take precautions to safeguard your family against ticks, which spread Lyme disease and other illnesses. This year’s tick season may be especially bad; at least two leading epidemiologists predict 2017 will be “the worst-ever season for tick infiltration and infection.”
Protect your family from tick-borne illnesses by avoiding walking in tall grass; wearing boots, pants and long sleeves in wooded areas; applying insect repellents with DEET of more than 20 percent; and checking clothes for ticks after spending time in the woods.
Another risk of spending time in wooded areas (and even some parks and yards) is coming in contact with poison ivy. Before heading outdoors, make sure everyone in your family knows what poison ivy looks like so they can avoid it. Wear protective clothing when hiking or camping, and to be extra safe, apply a cream such as IvyBlock, which is intended to act as a barrier between skin and urushiol (the oily resin that causes poison ivy rash). If your pets trek through the woods, don rubber gloves and bathe them before touching their fur.
One in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime; exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the number one cause of skin cancer.
To prevent sunburn, limit outdoor activities between 11 AM and 4 PM when the sun’s rays are most intense. Also, make sure to use an effective sunscreen. Look for a label that indicates the product has an SPF of 30 or higher, is broad-spectrum (meaning it protects skin from both UVA and UVB rays), and is water-resistant. Apply about two tablespoons of sunscreen (the equivalent of a shot glass) over all exposed parts of the body, and reapply regularly.
Children are more prone to becoming dehydrated and developing heat exhaustion; they sweat less and retain more body heat than adults. Keep your children safe by making sure they’re drinking plenty of water when outdoors (even when they’re not thirsty) and keeping an eye out for signs of heat illness, which include cramps, headache, weakness, extreme thirst, nausea, and elevated body temperature. If you suspect your child is overheated, take him indoors or to a shaded area, remove excess clothes, and encourage him to drink cool fluids.
On average, according to the Centers for Disease Control, two children age 14 or younger die from drowning every day in the United States and ten more are treated in emergency rooms after near drownings. Protect your children by enrolling them in formal swimming lessons, supervising them at all times in and around water, and insisting they wear life jackets when on a boat. Additionally, the CDC encourages all adults to learn CPR, as CPR performed immediately after a drowning incident can save a victim’s life.
This summer, enjoy the great outdoors—but be mindful of the most common seasonal threats.