The Doctor Is In, Summer Safety Tips for Kids
By Dr. Maya Djordjevic, Pediatrics, Nyack Hospital

As you make your family’s summer plans, here are some simple steps you can take to ensure your children stay safe as they enjoy the warm weather.

Sun Exposure
For babies under 6 months, avoid sun exposure whenever possible. Dress your infant in lightweight long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a hat with a brim that shades the neck. If your baby will be out in the sun, use a little sunscreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor).

Older children should wear a hat, sunglasses that protect against both UVA and UVB rays, and cotton clothing with a tight weave. Limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, even on cloudy days. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. 

Insect Bites
To prevent insect bites, use an insect repellent on your child. These products prevent bites from biting insects--such as mosquitoes, ticks, and biting flies--but not stinging ones, such as bees, hornets and wasps. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that repellents should contain no more than 30 percent DEET when used on children. Don’t buy products that contain both DEET and sunscreen—the DEET can make the SPF less effective. Don’t use insect repellent on children younger than 2 months.

Water Safety
Never leave a child alone in or near the pool, even for a moment. Don’t use inflatable swimming aids, such as ‘floaties’ –use approved life vests instead. When an infant or toddler in is or around water, an adult (ideally one who can swim and knows CPR) should be within arm’s length. If you own a pool, install four-sided fencing around it, with a self-closing, self-latching gate.

Bicycle Helmets
Since many bike accidents involve a head injury, bicycle helmets are needed to avoid brain damage or even death. The best choices for helmets are ones that are brightly colored, and ones that are well ventilated. Look for a helmet with a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sticker.

Make sure your child wears the helmet squarely on top of the head, covering the top of the forehead. If the helmet is tipped back, it won’t provide full protection. The helmet should not move around on the head or slide over the eyes when it is pushed or pulled. The chin strap should fit snugly.

Children should be well hydrated and should not feel thirsty before they engage in prolonged physical activity. Children should drink water every 20 minutes while they exercise in the heat. They should drink more if they are playing in very hot and humid weather, are engaging in strenuous exercise, or are sweating a lot.

By planning ahead for your children’s safety before you head outside, you can spend more time enjoying those lazy days of summer.