From swimming incidents to sunburns to mosquito attacks, it’s easy for a fun day to turn miserable for children who aren’t properly prepared for summertime fun.
To make sure your child does more laughing than crying this summer, here are some things to keep in mind.
There are plenty of swimming spots in lakes, rivers and pools where kids enjoy splashing around.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swim lessons for children to protect against drowning. Children develop at different rates, but many children can start these lessons around age 1. By age 4, most children are ready for swim lessons.
Swimming lessons are very important, and supervision is also essential, said Kevin Monahan, Pediatrics Physician Assistant at Memorial Regional Health. He recommends keeping children close — an arm’s length away is ideal — while near bodies of water for constant, attentive supervision.
“Always keep in mind that swim lessons are just one of several important layers of protection needed to help prevent drowning. Another layer includes constant, focused supervision when your child is in or near a pool or any body of water,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. “It also is essential to block access to pools during non-swim time. The Consumer Product Safety Commission found that 69 percent of children under the age of 5 years were not expected to be in the water at the time of a drowning.”
Heat and sun
More time outdoors means more exposure to heat and the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. The best way to beat the heat is to stay hydrated, Monahan said.
“Babies are at an increased risk for heat illness as they don’t sweat as well. Keep babies less than 6 months old out of direct sun, if possible,” he said.
Children should wear light clothes and hats, and sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 should be reapplied every couple of hours, Monahan said. Zinc oxide is also very effective sun protection, but stay away from oxybenzone, he said.
Tick bites can cause disease, a disease spread to people through bites of infected ticks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that symptoms include fever, chills, headache, body aches and feeling tired. While rare, you can take steps to avoid getting the disease by using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, avoiding wooded and bushy areas with high grass, and performing thorough tick checks after spending time outside.
Mosquitoes, which are expected to be prolific this summer, can carry West Nile, the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the U.S. About one in five people infected with West Nile Virus develop a fever and other symptoms, while about one in 150 people develop serious illness that can sometimes be fatal, according to the CDC. Avoid mosquito bites by wearing insect repellent and wearing long-sleeves and long pants.
“Applying DEET or other bug repellents such as picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, can help prevent bites,” Monahan said. “In kids older than 2 months, products with permethrin can be applied to clothes only.”
Injuries are the leading cause of death in children, but most can be prevented. In order to protect children from any injury ranging from minor to severe, it’s important to ensure kids are wearing proper shoes and gear — including helmets, eye protection, sun protection and clothing — every time they head outside. Always supervise young children around fall hazards, such as stairs or playground equipment.
The CDC has a helpful list of tips for keeping children safe at home, at play or, for teenagers, on the job at http://www.cdc.gov/family/kids/summer.