Summer Outdoor Safety Tips

KIDS - child playing in sprinkler Photo Credit: Mi Pham

Summer is the ultimate time to take time off from reality and take a great family vacation. Our friends at Divine Caroline and More shared tips on how to protect ourselves and our families from the potential health risks that come with fun in the sun – and we added in some tips of our own. 

WHN TIP– Get the App! – The Red Cross First Aid app is a great resource in case of emergency.

Fun In The Sun

If you’re lucky, the weather will cooperate, but don’t let sunburn or heat stress ruin your child’s fun. Sun exposure is more severe in high altitudes, during midday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), and where light is reflected off water or snow. Even on overcast days, damaging UV rays can come through the clouds.

1. Safety for Babies

  • Babies under six months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight
  • Find shady spots, dress babies in lightweight clothing and brimmed hats, and equip your carriage with a sun-shield
  • Offer ample water and/or diluted juice

2. Safety For Kids

  • Dress in light-colored, lightweight clothing (cotton is cool and protective)
  • Choose a sunscreen made for children—look for the words “broad-spectrum,” “waterproof,” and an SPF of at least “15.” Before covering your child, test it on his arm for a reaction.
  • Put on sunscreen thirty minutes before going outdoors. Rub it in well, especially on exposed areas (don’t forget the nose, ears, hands, feet, as well as the back of the knees), and reapply every two hours.

3. Proper Hydration

  • Cool water and diluted fruit juices (popsicles and fruit pops are fun) are the drinks of choice
  • Since kids are unable to recognize the warning signs of dehydration, encourage them to drink—even if they don’t feel thirsty—before (e.g. extra fluids today in preparation for a sports game tomorrow) and during (i.e. every twenty minutes) outdoor activities

4. Treating Sunburn

If a sunburn does happen (and let’s face it, even the best-intentioned parents can slip up), relief of the discomfort becomes important. Here are four starter tips:

  • First and foremost, stay out of the sun while you are sunburned!
  • Encourage junior to drink clear fluids
  • Medications such as ibuprofen are useful, especially when started early
  • Cool (not ice cold) baths or compresses (equal parts of water and milk—pat don’t rub) will be soothing, followed by aloe-based lotions. (Other light fragrance-free moisturizers—even petroleum jelly—will work.)

In most cases, self-care is all that is necessary; rarely, extreme discomfort and constitutional signs such as dizziness may signify “sun poisoning,” and a physician should be consulted.

5. Swimming ‘n’ Splashing

Whether at a resort, on a cruise, or visiting friends, water safety is not negotiable! Remember that teaching your child how to swim DOES NOT mean your child is safe in the water.

  • Never leave children alone … even for a moment!
  • Anyone watching young children should learn CPR and be able to rescue. Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within arm’s length (“touch supervision”).
  • Make sure that rescue equipment, such as a life preserver, and a telephone (charge your cell phone!) are available
  • Don’t permit air-filled “swimming aids.” They are not a substitute for approved life vests and may give children a false sense of security.
  • Seek shelter in case of a storm; get out of and away from the water.

WHN TIP – Learn to Swim! The Red Cross offers swim classes for people of all ages and abilities.

6. Bug Safety

  • Pesky insects can cause painful itching, as well as a host of dangerous diseases.
  • Don’t attract insects! Avoid using scented soaps, perfumes, or hair sprays, as well as brightly colored/flowery print clothing.
  • Insect repellents containing DEET (not to be used on children under two months old, and maximum concentration for older children is thirty percent) are the most effective. Apply only to exposed areas of skin.

WHN TIP – Go DEET-Free: If you’re concerned about using products with DEET, non-DEET alternatives are available such as picaridin-based formulas and oil of lemon eucalyptus. Repel and Treehugger both list products in their articles. Consumer Reports also has an Insect Repellent Buying Guide.

7. Wasp and Bee Stings

Most insect stings in a non-allergic child require no more than simple first aid. If your child is stung and previously had a serious allergic reaction to the particular insect, immediately seek medical attention—even if your child appears to be okay.

Here are some tips on how to treat stings with simple first aid.

  • Remove any stingers remaining in the skin (most likely from bees). One simple way is to gently scrape out the stinger with a credit card.
  • Apply ice to the sting site—cloth should be placed between ice and skin—for up to twenty minutes per hour
  • Consider acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief, and an antihistamine (e.g. diphenhydramine) for itching (Yes, these may be given together.)
  • Wash the sting site with soap and water, and apply an antibiotic ointment.
  • More serious reactions may need immediate medical care. If allergic symptoms develop (e.g. hives, respiratory difficulty) consider taking an antihistamine and, if previously prescribed by a doctor, EpiPen.

Thanks to our friends at DivineCaroline and More!

More? Check out advice on Top Five Pet Heat Prevention Tips

Photo Credit: Mi Pham

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