By Karon Warren | Photography courtesy of ewg.org
Keep these tips in mind to make your children’s summer adventures as safe as possible.
School is out, the sun is shining and the temps are on the rise, which means summer has arrived. While pool parties, neighborhood games of tag and family vacations are on the horizon, don’t get so caught up in the fun and merriment that you throw caution to the wind. It’s important to take care while you are out and about with the kids, so everyone stays safe and enjoys their time in the sun.
Slather on the Sunscreen
Although it doesn’t usually pop to mind when someone says “cancer,” skin cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed each year, according to the American Cancer Society. It also is easy to reduce your risk of getting skin cancer just by applying sunscreen.
Most people remember to apply sunscreen before hitting the beach or jumping in the pool. However, sunscreen should be applied before you head outside, even if you plan to be in the shade or there are clouds overhead. The sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays are strong and have no problem penetrating through clouds, leaves and tree branches.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using board-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays) with a SPF of 30 or higher that is water-resistant. Remember to reapply often, too, especially if the kids are sweating a lot.
Other ways to protect kids from the sun is by outfitting them in swimwear made of sun-protection fabric with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) of 50 or higher, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.
Diving into the pool, floating down a creek, or splashing in the waves at the beach offer fun ways to cool off each summer. But both kids and parents must remember to play safely any time they are in or near the water.
The first best step to swimming safety is teaching your kids how to swim. This goes beyond learning how to move in the water; it also includes learning how to tread water, how to float, and how to respond when they are caught up in a riptide.
Check your community for providers offering swim lessons, like the courses offered by the YMCA of Memphis and The Mid-South in Olive Branch. You can register online for group or private swim lessons at www.ymcamemphis.org/micro-site-olive-branch-family-ymca/swim-lessons.
Also, as children become acquainted with the water, it’s not uncommon for parents to implement such floatation aids as arm floaties, inflatable swim vests, and toddler swim rings and floats. While these all are good for helping kids feel comfortable in the water, they are no substitute for adult supervision. An adult should be within arm’s reach of all children in the water.
When swimming in pools, remind kids to avoid drains and suction outlets, which can lead to entrapment. Staying vigilant while children are in the water is the best step parents can take to keep kids safe.
Beware the Wildlife
When swimming in freshwater lakes and rivers, swimmers are at risk — although a low level of risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — at contracting Naegleria fowleri, an ameba that leads to infection. To reduce the risk of infection, the CDC recommends that you hold your nose closed or use nose clips any time you swim under water. In addition, per the CDC, swimmers should not dig in or stir up the sediment when swimming in shallow, warm, freshwater rivers and lakes.
For those swimming in the ocean, keep an eye out for jellyfish sharing those same waters. If swimming on a beach with lifeguards, check with them to see if they have any jellyfish warnings and avoid those areas. In the event of a jellyfish sting, do not apply an icepack. Instead, rinse the area with vinegar.
Also, do not rub the area; instead, use tweezers to remove any tentacles on the skin. If your child experiences symptoms such as trouble breathing or swallowing, a swollen tongue or lips, nausea or vomiting, muscle spasms, or is dizzy or has a headache, call 911.
While temperatures can get quite hot in the summer, those temperatures are exacerbated inside a vehicle. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure all children exit a vehicle when you do. Most parents firmly believe they would never leave their children behind in a hot vehicle, but it happens.
Michael Braunold, creator of eClip, a Bluetooth device that alerts parents to check the car for their children, offers several tips to help parents avoid “Forgotten Baby Syndrome.” The first is to eliminate distractions; this includes putting down your phone until after your children are removed from the car.
Running a quick errand, such as dropping a package off at the post office, should only take a few minutes. But you never know when someone may hold up the line or the post office is short staffed, stretching out a quick task into long minutes. Those minutes could seem like forever for kids stuck in a quickly heating car, so bring them inside with you.
While summer should be a season filled with fun, there are dangers that affect the safety of our kids. By taking a few precautions, though, we can keep those dangers to a minimum, ensuring everyone has a great time.