This summer, families all over the country will be jumping into pools, tubing in lakes, grilling in the backyard, trekking in the wilderness, and more! Regardless of how you enjoy the outdoors, be sure to know about the health risks. From toddler-friendly sunscreen to bug bite protection, here are some tips to have a safe summer!
All it takes is just one or two severe sunburns before the age of 18 to double the lifetime risk of malignant melanoma. Always have access to sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection (protecting against both aging and burning rays) that has a SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply every hour if you’re wet, sweating or toweling off, and every two hours during outdoor playtime. The best sunscreen for little ones contains zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide rather than chemical sunscreens. These formulas are good for sensitive young skin, and don’t need to soak in to be immediately effective. Don’t forget to wear sunglasses that also contain UVA and UVB protection or a wide-brimmed hat!
Keep children at a distance when grilling and make sure matches are also out of reach. In case of grease fires, keep baking soda or salt nearby. Don’t forget to douse coals with water after they cool in the BBQ and wait until the next day to empty to avoid sparking your trash can. As temperatures rise, make food safety a priority too. All poultry should be cooked thoroughly and if you use egg-based sauces or mayo, make sure there is a large ice-filled platter beneath the serving dish to keep it cold. Last but not least, keep hydrated! It’s easy to forget that we can become dehydrated just by being outside in the heat.
The best way to protect your family is to not use any fireworks at home. Instead, attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals. If you plan to use fireworks, make sure they are legal in your area and never light them indoors or near dry grass. Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush, leaves and flammable substances. And remember that little arms are too short to hold sparklers, which can heat up to 1,200 degrees. Safe Kids Worldwide suggests having your young children use glow sticks instead. They can be just as fun but they don’t burn at a temperature hot enough to melt glass.
Backyard and Bug Safety
Bugs come out to play at dusk and in the evening when the weather cools so apply insect repellent when the sun sets to prevent bites and stings by mosquitoes and other summer critters. Insect repellents containing DEET should not be used on children under two months old. Even “natural products” containing oil of lemon or eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years old. When applying insect repellents to children, avoid their hands, around the eyes, and cut or irritated skin, or better yet, apply on top of light-weight pants and long-sleeved shirts. After returning indoors, wash the repellent off of your child’s skin. If you go hiking, or live near tall grasses or woods, a daily (head to toe) inspection for potential ticks is very important to avoid tick-borne illnesses.