Summer is a great time to get kids active outside as they take time to dig, run, climb, and splash. The summer can quickly become a lot less fun, though – and a little dangerous – if certain safety precautions aren’t taken.
Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner Jan Hershberger with WellSpan Family Medicine in Waynesboro enjoys staying active during the summer with her own little boy. She offers these tips to ensure kids are safe where sun, bugs, and water are concerned – so they can have their best summers yet!
To avoid the peak sizzle of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, keep kids inside during midday hours – between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Once it’s time to go outside, apply 1 oz. – about a shot-glass full – of a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to children 6 months of age and older. Don’t forget the ears and be sure to protect eyes and lips, too; apply a lip balm that contains SPF 30 or higher and have children wear sunglasses that block as close to 100% of UVA and UVB rays as possible. Be sure to reapply sunscreen to all exposed skin at least every two hours – and after your kids have been sweating or toweled off from the pool. SPF-containing rash guards can be great for children since they provide added protection in case you forget to reapply sunscreen as often as you should.
Kids love to play outside and get dirty. Sometimes, it’s not just dirt they bring back inside with them. Mosquito and tick bites are common in this area – and both carry vector-borne illnesses like West Nile virus, Zika virus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Lyme disease. To protect kids from pesky and more troubling bites, use an EPA-registered insect repellent that contains DEET before sending them outside. You can provide additional protection by having them wear lightweight protective clothing such as long-sleeved T-shirts, long pants, and closed-toe shoes if it’s not too hot out. Always check children for ticks after they’ve been outside, especially if they’ve been playing in wooded or grassy areas. Check closely at the hairline and throughout the hair, around the ears, under the arms, between the legs, around the waist, and at the backs of the knees. Even if you don’t spot a tick during the initial skin check, keep an eye out for a bullseye rash or flu-like symptoms, which could indicate your child was bitten by an infected tick. These symptoms can appear anywhere from three to 30 days of being bitten.
Visiting the pool can be a favorite summer activity for many kids. And while it might be tempting to relax at the pool – especially after your child has reached a certain age or demonstrated some swimming know-how – it’s important to keep a close eye on them even if lifeguards are present. Drowning can happen quickly and quietly. Use flotation devices for inexperienced swimmers and invest in swimming lessons from a qualified program that also teaches water survival skills. At the pool, make sure your kids have your full supervision. Even a few distracted minutes can mean the difference between great summer memories and a tragedy.
Jan Hershberger is a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner at WellSpan Family Medicine on the first floor of WellSpan Waynesboro Medical Office Building.