Keeping Children Safe During Summer Activities

By Danny Sandgren, DO

As we transition into warmer weather, we will see more children out playing in the neighborhoods, at the park, riding bicycles, or at the community pool. Here are a few tips on keeping them safe.

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As the long, wet winter has come to its end, we will be transitioning into the warmer weather, which brings with it some challenges in keeping our children safe. We will all likely see more children out playing in the neighborhoods, at the park, riding bicycles, or at the community pool. There are a few things that we need to remember in regards to summer safety. Here are a few tips and recommendations from your local pediatricians and the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

1. Sun safety

  • The best line of defense is to cover up and avoid the direct sunlight. It is recommended to wear clothing with a tight weave or clothing with ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). Children should wear a large (3-inch) brimmed hat and UV protected sunglasses. 
  • Apply sunscreen 
    • Children under 6 months of age should avoid direct sunlight altogether and be covered up or in the comfort of shade. If needed you may use minor amounts of sunscreen to areas such as nose/ears. ii. Use sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and at least SPF 30 or greater. This should be applied 15-30 minutes prior to going outdoors and reapplied every 2-3 hours, especially when swimming. Apply liberally to all areas of the body. 
    •  c. Limit sun exposure from the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 2

2. Stay hydrated

  • You should avoid intense activities/exercise during the midday hours. 
  • You need to acclimatize yourself to the hot environment, starting slowly and increasing gradually your activity level during the summer months. 
  • You need to drink water freely/often and should never feel like you are thirsty. If you know an activity is going to occur in the heat, you should prepare yourself by drinking plenty of water hours before the activity is to occur.
  • Drinking breaks should be as often as every 20 minutes during activities in the extreme heat of the summer months. 
  • Monitor for signs of heatstroke, such as becoming lightheaded, dizzy, nauseated or vomiting, or experiencing a rapid heart rate and breathing. 

3. Helmet safety

  • Always wear an appropriate sized helmet when doing outdoor activities such as riding a bike, scooter, or skateboard/longboard, no matter how short or long the ride is going to be. 
  • Helmet should fit snuggly to the head and be placed just above the eyebrows with very minimal movement from side to side. There should be no more than one finger width of space at the chin when the straps are appropriately tightened.  
  • Look for a helmet with the CPSC safety standard. 
  • Always monitor your children when they are doing these activities. 

4. Swim safety

  • Never leave children alone in a pool or around water. You should always be supervising your children.
  • Have younger children who are unable to swim wear appropriately sized life jackets that fit snuggly when all the straps are buckled. 
  • Learn how to perform CPR in case of an emergency. 
  • Fence your pool in on all sides at least four feet high in order to prevent younger children from getting to the pool. 
  • Teach your kids how to swim. 

5. Bug safety

  • Children under 2 months of age should avoid any insect repellent and should be covered up if outside to prevent any bug bites.
  • Children over 2 months of age may use an insect repellent with at least 10-30 percent DEET. 
  • Avoid stagnant water or other areas that are known to be places where there is a large population of insects.