Even though camp season has ended, we are in for a string of very warm days and I want to be sure parents, families and kids are being safe during their outside adventures. Hare some tips and tools for parents and care-givers during these hot summer days to ensure our families are prepared to beat the heat.
- Limit outdoor playtime between 10am and 4pm. Avoid unnecessary exposure when the sun's rays are at their strongest. Even on cloudy or cooler days, ultraviolet (UV) rays remain strong. Shady spots can also reflect light so pick them wisely.
- Apply sunscreen properly. Generously apply sunscreen 30 minutes before your child goes out in the sun. Choose a sunscreen with SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 15 or higher. Reapply sunscreen every 2 to 3 hours, or after sweating or swimming.
- Cover up. Wearing protective clothing and hats is one of the most important ways of warding off UV damage. And don't forget the accessories: sunglasses with UV protection to guard against burned corneas, and hats to prevent sunburned scalps and faces. Protective clothing, hats with brims and sunglasses are just as important for babies.
- Keep watch on medications. Some medications increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun, so make sure to ask your doctor whether your child may be at risk. Prescription antibiotics and acne medications are the most notorious culprits.
- Overheating. Infants and toddlers are especially vulnerable to heat, so keep your child cool and well hydrated. Hot, flushed skin and a high fever, or cool, clammy skin without fever, indicate a serious heat reaction, keep kids cool and hydrated.
- Stings and bites. Protect your little one from hungry insects by dressing her in lightweight, long-sleeve shirts and long pants when in wooded areas or grassy fields and by applying non-DEET insect repellent to her clothing. Remember that bright colors and floral prints attract bees and wasps, as do sticky faces and hands.
- Use Caution when around water. Sadly, drowning is among the leading causes of accidental death in children. If you want your kids to play in water, supervise them within arm's reach, even in shallow water.
Sara DuMond, MD, is a pediatrician, a mom of two young children and an American Baby adviser. Copyright ©2008 Meredith Corporation. Originally published in June issue of American Baby magazine.
-by Brittany Rose, Camping Services Director