Slide into summer, safely

By: Samantha Antenucci

After a long winter and wet spring, summer is now ready for its closeup! Sun and warmth usher in your kids’ favorite outdoor activities, but there’s danger afoot: Sunburn, bug bites, and water mishaps could ruin your vacation. Whether you’re home, on the road, or out camping, keep our stay-safe tips in mind.

Sun Safety

Melanoma rates are on the rise, so make sunscreen a part of your family’s everyday get-ready routine. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, children’s skin is particularly sensitive and prone to burning; plus, having a severe sunburn as a child is a risk factor for a serious skin cancer later in life. And if you think people with darker skin is and/or those who “tan easily” are less at risk, think again; this is a huge misconception. The risk is real for everyone. A few reminders:

-Never forget sunscreen! Choose a product with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 to 30—minimum. Whenever you’re out enjoying the weather, use it on all exposed skin.

-Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before leaving the house, and reapply it every two hours. Also reapply after coming out of the water.

-Don’t drop your guard just because it’s a cloudy day. The sun’s UV rays can burn right through the clouds. Slather it on!

-Loose-fitting and brightly colored clothes can help keep you and your kids cool in the heat. Beach day? Make your own shade with umbrellas.

-Keep water nearby and drink it—even if you’re not feeling thirsty. You can easily become dehydrated in warm weather.

Water Safety

Being around water is a great way to cool down, but be aware of your surroundings. More than 800 children drown each year, according to CDC estimates. The Red Cross has many tips for water safety:

-Enroll in swim classes! Learning to swim is not only fun but also gives you the confidence to safely enjoy the pool or beach.

-Always swim with a buddy, but do not trust a child’s life to another child. It is vital that an adult or lifeguard be present when children swim.

-Teach your children to ask for permission to go near water.

-Life jackets can save the lives of novice and experienced swimmers, but they have to be worn! A boat must have one life jacket for each person aboard.

-Adult-sized life jackets will not work for children. A child’s life jacket should fit snugly, and not allow the child’s chin or ears to slip through.

Bites and Stings

Ticks and insects can be a nuisance—or an outright health threat. Pennsylvania, a hotspot for the deer ticks that carry Lyme disease, leads the nation in cases of Lyme—already the most common tick-borne illness in both North America and Europe. A few tips:

-Stung by a bee? Do not pull the stinger out with your fingers or tweezers. Doing this can push the venom back into your skin. Instead, take a credit card or I.D. card and scrape downward. This should remove the stinger without injecting the venom back into the person’s body.

-Be aware of your allergies! If you have an EpiPen, keep it nearby. If you’re bitten or stung and feel itching and have difficulty breathing, call 911 immediately.

-Insect repellents containing DEET are effective, but be sure to read the label and avoid products with a DEET concentration higher than 30 percent. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that DEET not be used on infants.

-DEET should only be used on exposed skin that is free of cuts and open wounds. Do not spray insect repellent directly onto the face; first spray it on your hands and rub the repellant on the face.

-Ticks often lurk in tall grass, so tuck your pant legs into your boots and socks, and wear long-sleeved shirts. Do a “tick check” at the end of the day.

-To remove a tick, use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers. Make sure to disinfect the area and keep a close eye out for any telltale rashes or signs of infection.

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