Summer calls for playing in the sand, splashing in the pool, exploring local parks, and running barefoot through the yard. With all of the giggles and excitement that come with summer, dangers are also nearby. Pediatrician Elsayed Abdelsalam, MD, known best by his patients as Dr. Sayed, provides parents with 10 tips to help them and their children have a summer to remember.
Always keep babies in the shade. If you go to a pool or beach, use a tent or umbrella. A hat with a brim is recommended, along with sunglasses to protect the eyes. There aren’t any sunscreens approved for babies under six months old. For those over six months, use a sensitive skin product containing an SPF of 70 or higher. Limit sun exposure during peak times of 11 a.m.– 4 p.m. Exposure to the sun during peak times could lead to skin cancer in the future.
Don’t dress babies in too many layers because they can overheat. And avoid tight clothing, which can make children sweat more and overheat and could result in heat rash. Loose clothing made of 100% cotton will help them stay cool and dry. Light colors are best because they help deflect the sun’s rays, whereas dark colors attract them.
Keep your children hydrated! If your child is thirsty, they are already dehydrated. Be sure they drink lots of fluids, since the sun and heat lead to loss of electrolytes and water through sweating. Limit intake of sugary drinks and always keep cool drinks nearby — water is preferred.
No helmet means no bike riding! Take a minute to put knee and elbow pads on your child as well. Remind them to look both ways when crossing the street.
Insects to watch for
Use a natural bug repellent for children ages four and younger so they can’t ingest harmful toxins, but are protected from mosquitoes and other bugs. Every time a child goes outside, even if just for a few minutes, do a full-body check for ticks when they come back in. If you find a tick try to pluck it out, but don’t rock it back and forth. If you can’t remove it, call your doctor to be seen the next day.
If you have a pool in your yard, you must install a fence. It takes just seconds for a child to drown. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1–4. Never leave your child alone in a pool, even if he or she is a good swimmer. Anyone learning to swim and any passenger on a boat, no matter their age, should wear a life jacket. Anytime you’re near open water, you should watch for lightning. If you see it near, get away from the water immediately.
If a bee stings your child, the area will swell. Apply ice immediately, give your child a pain reliever such as Tylenol, and apply an antihistamine to the area. But if a rash spreads, the child complains that their lips feel like they’re swelling, their throat tightens, they have a cough, or they’re wheezing or vomiting, call 911 if you don’t have an EpiPen®. Do not drive to the hospital! An ambulance can get to the child faster if there’s traffic.
Kids in vehicles
Never leave kids alone in the car, even if the car is running and the air-conditioning is on. Kids can lock themselves inside, fiddle with buttons, and turn off the air-conditioning. Within a few minutes without air-conditioning, it can get up to 120 degrees inside a car during the summer, which can be fatal.
There are several signs that your child may have heat illness, including thirst, vomiting, dizziness, lightheadedness, muscle cramps, headache, pale or flushed face, heavy sweating, cold clammy skin, and fatigue. If your child complains of any of these, have them drink fluids to rehydrate, get them out of the sun, and have them rest in a cool place. If your child seems confused, seek medical attention.
Arm yourself with the tools you need to protect your children. Learn CPR and first aid. That way you’ll know what to do if your child is choking on a hotdog during a summer barbeque, for example. Go to Bayhealth.org/Classes-and-Events to sign up for educational opportunities.
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