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Summer Safety Tips for Kids

Summer is quickly approaching, as much as it may not seem like it in many parts of the country. With the summer season comes certain safety considerations parents need to be aware of. To ensure your kiddos are having the time of their lives, but doing it safely, Dr. Cheryl de Silva, a Pediatrician with Skagit Regional Health, provides the following tips.

Dr. de Silva, Pedatrics

Sunscreen Is a Must-Have
One of the biggest questions Dr. de Silva gets is about sunscreen. Specifically, “What should we use, when should we use it and how?”

“My answer is, you want to keep reapplying, you want to use it as often as possible and you should start as young as six months old. For young kids under six months, one thing we can do is make sure they're dressed appropriately, wearing long-sleeved clothing. Even for older kids, wearing a hat with a large brim is a good idea.”

The minimum SPF should be 30 and reapplication is recommended every two hours.

Prioritize Water Safety

Perhaps the most important water safety measure occurs long before summer water activities even come into the picture. Learning how to swim is of such value, even for young children. Many neighborhoods have community centers that offer swimming lessons. Adults can also take part if they’re not the best swimmers as an added level of water safety.

“Make sure you're comfortable in the water, so they feel comfortable in the water,” notes Dr. de Silva.

Kids who are still learning to swim benefit from wearing life vests and arm floaties, particularly in open bodies of water (ocean, lake, river). Adults and kids can also be prepared by knowing if there is a lifeguard on duty and exactly where the lifeguard station is.

Put Measures in Place Prior to Outings

Summer is a prime time for county fairs, amusement park outings and trips to the zoo. In all of these situations, it’s essential to have conversations with kids about sticking together and understanding when danger might be afoot. If they do become lost or separated from the group, kids should know who they can turn to for help. If they’re too young to know their parent’s phone number, a smart idea is to write it on the tongue of their shoe so an adult can quickly help.

It's also important to have a first-aid kit in multiple locations, such as the home, car and a travel-sized one to take on outings.

“Some essential things to have in case of a small injury include Band-Aids and an antibiotic. If you're outside in the summer sun and know you might be next to something like poison ivy or anything that could cause an itch, having Benadryl or something to help with the itch would be quite useful and may even prevent you from going to the emergency room or an urgent care center,” advises Dr. de Silva.

If you’re new to a community or visiting an unknown area on vacation, it’s helpful to know where emergency facilities are located. Dr. de Silva also mentions that there’s no harm in calling 911 if you’re uncertain about a medical situation. “It's always better to be safe than sorry.”

Summer: The Perfect Time to Eat More Nutritious Foods 

One aspect summer affords in terms of keeping kids healthy is the vast opportunities to introduce seasonal fruits and vegetables. One strategy Dr. de Silva suggests is choosing a color for each day of the week. For example, Monday could be red—focusing on apples, tomatoes or red peppers. Tuesday might be green, a great opportunity for broccoli, fresh peas, beans or Granny Smith apples.

There are many ways to encourage kids to be involved in healthful nutrition. “It could simply mean having them in the kitchen, helping with peeling or setting the table or getting ingredients together. But, it could also be something like setting up a vegetable garden, watching them grow and understanding a bit more about fruits and vegetables,” suggests Dr. de Silva.

Let’s Have a Summer!

Summer should be a joyful time, full of play and family time—but also safety. If you, as a parent or caregiver, have any questions surrounding summer safety, a good place to start is with your child’s pediatrician.

“The best thing to do is engage in conversation with your pediatrician or primary care provider,” shares Dr. de Silva. “I think opening up the dialogue, finding specific questions you may want answers to, is all going to lead to more conversations about safety and ultimately keep your whole family safe through this summer and all the seasons ahead.”

To listen to the podcast on this topic, visit here.