Make fun and safe summer memories
6/15/2023 by Chelsea Willson, APRN, C.N.P., D.N.P.
Summer brings an atmosphere of fun and relaxation that's meant to be enjoyed with family and friends. Summer activities often develop into a positive core of experiences that lasts a lifetime. Follow the tips below to make sure the summer memories your child makes are fun and safe.
Beat the heat: Prevent heat exhaustion
Children under the age of four are at increased risk of contracting heat exhaustion. To prevent heat exhaustion, avoid scheduling activities during the hottest part of the day. In addition, it's important to stay hydrated, preferably by drinking water or a flavored electrolyte drink. On extremely hot days, offer frequent water breaks to children. Children under the age of six months should only be given breastmilk or formula and should be monitored closely for heat exhaustion.
Spark joy, not burns, this Fourth of July
Fireworks bring wonder and awe to a child's world. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to enjoy a professional fireworks show. If you decide to do a home firework display, do not allow children to light or hold fireworks.
While sparklers may seem like a safer way to enjoy fireworks, they are the leading cause of firework-related injuries. Sparklers should not be given to children seven years of age or younger. Children who are given sparklers must be closely supervised by an adult.
Avoid insect-borne disease
Spending time outdoors is a hallmark activity of the summer, and insects are more than willing to enjoy the outdoors with you. Prevent insect bites by applying a bug spray with 10%–30% DEET. Choose the lowest percent of DEET needed (10% DEET lasts for 45 minutes and 30% DEET lasts for five hours). Do not apply bug spray to children who are two months of age or younger.
An alternative insect repellant includes products that contain the oil of lemon eucalyptus and can be applied to children over the age of three. These products contain 10%–30% oil of the eucalyptus and should be EPA registered.
Have your child wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when walking in wooded or long grass areas where ticks like to live.
Each year, over 9,000 children sustain lawnmower-related injuries, with 38% of these children sustaining an amputation injury. To prevent injuries, keep children away from the lawn when you are mowing, preferably indoors or at another location. Never let a child ride as a passenger on a lawnmower.
Children 12 years of age and older may operate a push lawnmower, while children 16 years of age and older may operate a riding lawnmower. Teach your child how to safely operate the lawnmower. Require your child to wear appropriate closed-toe shoes and protective eyewear while mowing. In addition, debris should be cleared from the lawn prior to mowing to prevent injury from projectile objects.
Bike and scooter head injury prevention
All children and adults should wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle, bicycle or scooter. The helmet should fit properly and meet Consumer Product Safety Commission standards.
Drowning is the leading cause of death in children between one and four years of age. Closely supervise your child around open bodies of water (e.g., kiddie pools, bathtubs, raised pools, lakes, etc.). Children should always wear a properly fitting Coast Guard-approved life jacket when they are near an open body of water or while riding a watercraft. Enrolling your child in formal swim lessons will teach them how to swim as well as appropriate water safety.
If you have a home pool, make sure your pool is surrounded by a fence that is at least four feet high and is separate from the house. The gate to the fence should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch needs to be out of reach of children. Pool alarms and door alarms may also be utilized. You may also purchase a pool cover that prevents children from falling under the cover.
Preventing sunburn in children protects them against skin cancer in adulthood. Limit sun exposure by seeking a shady spot. If seeking shade is not possible, prevent sunburn by applying sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside, regardless of whether the weather is sunny or cloudy. Choose a sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, water-resistant and has an SPF, or sun protection factor, of at least 30. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or sooner if your child is swimming or sweating. you may also have your child wear sun-protective clothing, swim gear, a hat and sunglasses.
For children under six months of age, avoiding sun exposure is the safest way to prevent sunburn. avoiding sun exposure may include seeking shade, using an umbrella, wearing light clothing that covers the legs and arms, wearing hats and sunglasses, or using a stroller canopy. If it's not possible to avoid sun exposure, children under six months of age may have sunscreen of at least SPF-15 applied to their skin. A small amount of sunscreen will not hurt your infant.
Chelsea Willson, APRN, C.N.P., D.N.P., is a pediatric nurse practitioner in Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson's Division of Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (CPAM) at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.