summer_safety.jpegAs summer approaches, parents face the daunting task of preparing their children for a season full of activities. Ensuring that children are safe, healthy, and have fun requires careful planning and attention to detail. One of the primary challenges is balancing excitement with essential precautions.

With summer safety tips from the experts at Capital Area Pediatrics, you can help your children make the most of summer while staying safe and healthy. Schedule an appointment with your pediatrician to discuss any concerns you have and to get personalized recommendations for your child.

Request An Appointment

Understanding Sun Protection for Kids

One of the most crucial aspects of summer safety for kids is protecting them from the sun. Children's skin is more sensitive than an adult's, making it especially vulnerable to harmful UV rays.

When choosing a sunscreen, be sure to note its sun protection factor (SPF), which indicates how well the sunscreen can protect exposed skin from UV rays, which can cause sunburn and contribute significantly to skin cancer risk. For children, it is recommended to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

Once you've chosen the right sunscreen, applying it properly is essential. Be sure to cover all exposed areas of your child's skin, including often-missed spots like the ears, back of the neck, and tops of the feet. Reapply every two hours or more frequently if your child is swimming or sweating.

In addition to sunscreen, it's also important to dress your child in protective and light-colored clothing such as hats, sunglasses, and lightweight long-sleeved shirts and pants when spending time outdoors in the summer months. By combining sunscreen with protective clothing and accessories, you can help your child stay safe from the sun's harmful rays.

Safety Guidelines for Common Summer Activities

Summer is a time for outdoor activities, and while they can be great fun for kids, they also come with risks that parents need to be aware of. For example, if your child loves to bike, rollerblade, roller skate, skateboard, or ride a scooter, be sure to:

  • Ensure your child wears a properly fitted helmet at all times.
  • Make sure their equipment is the right size and in good working condition.
  • Equip their equipment or clothing with reflectors and lights, especially if they will be riding in low-light conditions.
  • Supervise younger children and establish safe riding areas for them.
  • Teach them basic traffic safety rules, like looking both ways before crossing the street and using hand signals.

If you know your family will be spending a lot of time at the pool or beach this summer, make sure to:

  • Enroll your child in swim lessons and emphasize the importance of water safety.
  • Never leave young children unsupervised near a pool or any body of water.
  • Learn CPR in case of emergencies.
  • Give young children or inexperienced swimmers a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when near water.

Lastly, if playing on a playground is your child's preferred summer activity, make sure to:

  • Check the equipment for safety hazards before allowing your child to play.
  • Ensure your child plays on age-appropriate equipment and stays within their physical capabilities.
  • Supervise younger children at all times.
  • Teach them playground safety rules, such as not pushing or shoving other children and using equipment properly.

Tips for Preventing Bug & Tick Bites

Summer also brings out a variety of bugs that can pose a threat to your child's health. Protecting your child from ticks and other insects is crucial to prevent bites and the potential diseases they can spread, such as Lyme disease and West Nile virus. Here are some tips for effective insect prevention:

  • Choose the Right Insect Repellant: Select a repellant that contains DEET or picaridin. These ingredients are effective at repelling ticks and other insects. For children, a repellant with a DEET concentration of 10-30% is generally recommended. Avoid using products that combine sunscreen and insect repellant, as they may reduce the efficacy of both.
  • Apply Repellant Correctly: Apply insect repellant to exposed skin and clothing as directed on the product label. Be cautious when applying repellant to children's faces; spray it on your hands first, then carefully apply it to their face, avoiding the eyes and mouth. Do not apply repellant to children's hands, as they may put their hands in their mouths or eyes.
  • Dress for Protection: Dress your child in long sleeves and long pants when they are in areas prone to ticks and other insects. Light-colored clothing can make it easier to spot ticks. Additionally, tucking pants into socks creates a barrier that can help prevent ticks from reaching the skin.
  • Perform Tick Checks: After spending time outdoors, especially in wooded or grassy areas, thoroughly check your child's body for ticks. Pay close attention to areas such as the scalp, behind the ears, under the arms, around the waist, and between the legs. If you find a tick, remove it promptly with fine-tipped tweezers by grasping it as close to the skin's surface as possible and pulling upward with steady, even pressure.

The Importance of Staying Cool & Hydrated

With the hot summer weather, it's crucial to keep your child hydrated and cool when spending time in the great outdoors. Though preventing heat-related illnesses and dehydration is important for people of all ages, extreme heat poses a greater risk to very young children.

Here are some tips to prevent heat-related illnesses when you spend time outdoors this summer:

  • Avoid outdoor activities during peak sunshine hours, typically from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are the strongest.
  • Encourage your child to take frequent breaks in a shaded or cool area to rest and lower their body temperature.
  • Dress your child in lightweight, loose-fitting, and light-colored clothing to help keep them cool in the summer heat.
  • Encourage your child to drink plenty of water before, during, and after activities to stay hydrated. Avoid sugary or caffeinated beverages.
  • Be vigilant of warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, such as excessive sweating, dizziness, headache, nausea, rapid pulse, and confusion.

First Aid for Common Summer Injuries

Preparing a well-stocked first aid kit is crucial for addressing minor injuries and illnesses that may occur during summer outings. Here are some essential items to include in your first aid kit:

  • Adhesive bandages of various sizes
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Gauze pads and rolled gauze
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Pain relievers
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Instant cold packs
  • Thermometer
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent

Having these items on hand can help parents feel more confident and prepared to handle minor medical issues while enjoying summer activities with their children. However, despite our best efforts, accidents can still happen.

While minor injuries, like sunburns and insect bites, can often be managed at home with basic first aid, there are certain situations when professional medical attention is necessary. Parents should be vigilant and seek medical care if:

  • The injury is severe, such as deep cuts, fractures, or sprains.
  • Your child has a high fever that isn't responding to over-the-counter medications.
  • There is difficulty breathing or any signs of an allergic reaction, such as swelling, hives, or difficulty swallowing.
  • Symptoms of a concussion are present after a head injury, such as persistent headache, dizziness, vomiting, or confusion.
  • A wound shows signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, warmth, or pus.

In any situation where you are unsure about the severity of an injury or illness, it is always best to err on the side of caution and consult with your child's pediatrician.

Travel Vaccines & Keeping Healthy on Vacation

Whenplanning summer travel, ensuring your child is up-to-date on recommended vaccines is vital for preventing infectious diseases. Depending on your destination, travel vaccines may be necessary in addition to routine childhood immunizations.

Capital Area Pediatrics is committed to ensuring your child's health and safety during travel. Our team of pediatric specialists canhelp prepare your family for international trips by:

  • Providing up-to-date travel vaccine recommendations based on your destination.
  • Administering required vaccinations in a timely manner.
  • Offering comprehensive health assessments to identify any additional precautions or preventive measures needed.
  • Giving valuable advice on food safety, hydration, sun protection, and overall health maintenance while traveling.

If your family will be traveling internationally, be sure to schedule your child's pre-travel consultation at least 4 weeks before your departure date to ensure enough time for vaccinations and proper preparation. 

Schedule Your Summer Health Visit

Before the carefree days of summer begin, it's essential to schedule your child'sannual well-child visit with their pediatrician. These checkups are crucial for ensuring your child is healthy and ready for the countless summer adventures that await. And, if your child will be participating in sports during the upcoming school year, be sure to schedule theirsports physical as soon as possible! This is our busiest time of year for physicals, and appointments fill up quickly.

Remember, summer is a wonderful time for your family to make unforgettable memories. By following these tips and taking the necessary steps to keep your child healthy and safe, you can enjoy all that summer has to offer with peace of mind. So go ahead, get outside, make lasting memories, and have a fantastic summer!

From well-child visits to specialty care, the team at Capital Area Pediatrics is here to help your family stay healthy all year long. Request an appointment online, or find a location near you today.

Request An Appointment