Latest News

10 summer safety tips to keep kids healthy

Summer is officially here and families will be spending more and more time outdoors gardening, taking walks and swimming. Whether you’re in your backyard or hiking in the woods, remember the following important safety tips to keep your kids healthy and happy all summer long.

1. Use at least SPF 15 when spending time outdoors. Apply every two hours, especially after swimming, sweating or toweling off. Try to avoid the midday hours when the sun is most intense and use clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays to prevent sunburns. Infants should be kept out of the sun entirely.

2. Avoid spending time outdoors in the early morning and early evening hours when insects are most active, and use an insect repellant with 10 to 30 percent DEET on kids 2 months and older. To prevent tick bites, avoid tall grass and piles of leaves. If you cannot do that, wear long-sleeved shirts and tuck the ends of pants into socks. Always check your child’s head, back, armpits and ears for ticks after playing outside. Do not use insect repellants on infants – use mosquito netting to prevent insect bites.

3. Remember “Leaves of three, let it be” to prevent exposure to poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. If your child is exposed to the plants, wash immediately with soap and water and wash his or her clothes in warm water. If your child contracts a rash, calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream can help with the persistent itching. If those treatments don’t work, or your child has a rash on his or her face, contact your child’s pediatrician.

4. Children should always be monitored closely when swimming, whether they are experienced swimmers or not. Remember, drowning is often silent. When taking a dip in a lake or stream, take extra precautions and wear protective footwear to prevent injuries from jagged rocks, broken glass or other debris.

5. Prevent heat exhaustion by taking frequent breaks in a cool place and drinking plenty of cool water. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include nausea, vomiting, dizziness and confusion. If your child shows any of these signs, have him or her lie in a cool place, and contact a medical professional.

6. Check playground equipment before allowing children to play on it. Surfaces can become very hot in the summer sun, while others exhibit normal wear and tear and are unsafe for children to play on.

7. Make sure your child wears a helmet and other safety gear when riding bikes, scooters or skateboards.

8. When having a picnic, prevent food poisoning by packing raw meat in a separate cooler and ensuring foods that contain mayonnaise, milk, eggs and meat are kept cold by placing them in a cooler with ice immediately after serving.

9. Burns are a common occurrence in the summer. Do not allow children to operate or play near a grill and bonfire.

10. Always supervise children closely when using fireworks. Prevent injuries by keeping children at a safe distance and only allowing adults to handle or light fireworks.

By taking a few extra precautions, you and your children can have a great and safe summer.

Craig Collison, MD, is a pediatrician with Mount Nittany Physician Group Pediatrics.