By Danny Luna
The summer season is always an exciting one for children and their families. Backpacks and homework assignments are set aside, and the rafts and noodles are pulled out for family trips to the community pool or beach. While this seems to be the most carefree time for kids and their families, summer is actually one of the most dangerous. Make sure to take proper safety precautions during fun summer activities.
Water Safety Tips
Swimming and playing in water can be fun for children and good exercise, but you should take certain precautions to prevent your child from drowning.
• Never let your child swim in any body of water without an adult watching.
• Be sure the adult watching your child knows how to swim, get emergency help and perform CPR.
• Keep a life-preserver in the pool area.
• Teach your child safety rules and make sure they are obeyed: never swim alone; never dive into water except when permitted by an adult; and always use a life jacket when on a boat, fishing or playing in a river or stream.
• Teach your child to swim once he or she is ready (usually around 5 years old).
Proper Sunscreen Application
For kids age 6 months and older, select an SPF of 15 or higher to prevent sunburn. Choose a sunscreen that states on the label that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays (referred to as “broad-spectrum” sunscreen). To avoid possible skin allergy, avoid sunscreens with PABA, and if your child has sensitive skin, look for a product with the active ingredient titanium dioxide (a chemical-free block).
• For sunscreen to do its job, it must be applied correctly:
• Apply sunscreen generously whenever your child will be in the sun.
• Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before kids go outside.
• Don’t forget about lips, hands, ears, feet, shoulders and behind the neck.
• Reapply sunscreen often.
• Apply a waterproof sunscreen if kids will be around water or swimming.
Bikes and skateboards are the main methods of transportation for many kids throughout the summer. Parents should always keep in mind that wearing a helmet is critical to avoid head trauma should a fall or accident occur.
• Helmets should have a sticker that says it meets standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
• Ensure your child’s bike helmet fits properly– it shouldn’t be too small or too big.
• Always wear a helmet.
• Reinforce positive behavior, and set a good example by having parents and other adults wear their helmets as well.
• If your child does fall down, be sure to get a new helmet; they don’t work as well after a major crash.
• Make sure your child knows how to wear helmets properly: the helmet should be level and cover child’s forehead; a good rule of thumb is to position the helmet two fingers above the eyebrows; the strap should always be fastened; and make sure the straps are adjusted so they’re snug enough that you can’t pull or twist the helmet around their head.
Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach wants to ensure the most fun time of year for kids and families is also the safest. Follow the above safety tips for the most common summertime activities to keep children healthy and happy during this care-free time of year.
Danny Luna is an injury prevention coordinator for the Family Safety Coalition at Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach.