Pool and beach safety for the summer

Terry RogersHeadlines, Health, Milford Headline Story

Pool and beach safety tips can help keep your family safe this summer

With the Memorial Day holiday, the summer season kicks off in Delaware with many locals and visitors heading to the pool or the beach. Although the beach or a pool is a great place to enjoy time with family and friends, there are things to remember to keep you and your family safe, according to Bryan Villar, MD with Bayhealth Primary Care as well as Adaobi Enekwizu, MD, Bayhealth pediatrician.

“I always tell patients that the sun is the safest sun is in the morning between sunrise and 10 AM and then again after 4 PM,” Dr. Villar said. “Between 10 AM and 4 PM is when the sun is the strongest. I recommend seeking shade whenever possible. If you are heading to the beach, bring a beach umbrella.”

Sunscreen is important throughout the year, but especially important during the summer months. He advises that everyone should use an SPF of 15 or higher and reapply every two hours. It is also important to reapply after being in the water or if you have been sweating.

“It’s easy for parents with young kids to be so concerned with the little ones that they forget to protect themselves,” Dr. Villar said. “Not only is it important for parents to have sunscreen on, but also to set a good example for the kids. Both lotion and spray sunscreen are effective and everyone, no matter their skin tone, should be using sunscreen. Even people with darker skin can get skin cancer. People with a strong family history of skin cancer may want to consider avoiding the sun whenever possible.”

Water safety is also important and something Dr. Enekwizu stresses, especially for children. According to Dr. Enekiwizu, drowning is one of the top ten leading causes of death among all young people as reported by the World Health Organization. It is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages one to four.

“Families need to be aware of and teach their children the risks that exist in and around natural and man-made bodies of water,” Dr. Enekwizu said. “Even small amounts of water, even two inches or less, pose a hazard for young children. This includes bathtubs, sinks, toilets, inflatable pools or buckets.”

Statistics show that most child drownings occur in residential swimming pools and a child can drown in under one minute. Children on the autism spectrum, certain heart conditions or epilepsy are at a higher risk of drowning and should have a water safety plan created by their pediatrician. Preteen and teenaged drownings occur more often in natural bodies of water, often because they tend to take more risks that younger people or adults. Young males are especially prone to overestimating their swimming ability. Diving injuries are also common among young males as they sometimes fail to determine water depth before diving.

“Swim lessons are recommended as early as age one, depending on the child’s developmental abilities,” Dr. Enekwizu said. “This certainly helps with water competency, but close supervision is still key. Children should always be supervised in the bath or near water. Particularly at the beach or at pools, designate a “water watcher,” a responsible adult that is within touch of children and not distracted by a device, socializing or drinking alcohol.”

For those who enjoy boating with children, be sure that everyone on the boat is using Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Be sure to check the label for approval and follow specifications for sizing based on weight so that it has the appropriate fit.

“Staying hydrated, especially during the heat of summer, is important,” Dr. Villar added. “Always make sure you have plenty of water for a day at the beach. It is also important for anyone who is on medications to be extra careful, since they are more prone to dehydration. If you feel excessively thirsty, are dizzy or overly fatigued, you may be suffering from dehydration.”

Despite being as careful as possible, sunburns may occur. If so, use aloe or lotion to soothe the skin. If the sunburn begins to peel, do not remove it and allow it to slowly come of on its own so that the skin under it an heal.

“In the end, I encourage patients to take vacations and get to places like the beach as often as they can,” Dr. Villar said. “Vacations are a great way to reduce stress, spend time with family and feel more balanced. I always want my patients to take every precaution while also having a great time on vacation.”

For more tips on summer safety, visit the Community Health and Wellness page at Bayhealth.

Share this Post