Summer is almost here and it’s a great time to review warm weather safety tips with your child. Here are some tips to keep your family safe and happy this summer.
A good rule of thumb is that, if your child is around water, it’s safest to have them in a lifejacket, even if there’s no intent to go swimming! It only takes a second for them to find a way into the water, and we want them protected if that happens. This is especially important for children 4 years and younger, who are at highest risk for a drowning event – in fact, after birth defects, drowning is the most common cause of death in this age group.
Other safety tips for water: install a fence around pools to prevent accidental unsupervised access, always have an adult supervise children playing in or around the water (no cell phone in hand!), and try to get your child in swim lessons as soon as they are 1 year old.
For babies 6 months and younger, it’s recommended to avoid direct sunlight rather than use sunscreen. This means focus on finding a shady spot to sit, using sun-protective clothing like hats, and avoiding spots where the water can reflect the sunlight back at you. For infants over 6 months and older children, a mineral-based sunscreen is best, both for your little one’s skin and for the environment. Look for ingredients like “zinc oxide” and “titanium dioxide.” I recommend SPF 30-50 applied to the whole body 30 minutes prior to sun exposure, and it is important to reapply every 2 hours, or after swimming.
Be sure your child has a helmet that meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. There should be a label on the inside of the helmet. These should be available at most department and toy stores, as well as bicycle shops. Avoid used helmets, as these could have been in a crash already and not as effective. Most importantly, helmets only work if they are worn! Be sure your child wears a helmet on every bike or scooter ride, even the short ones around your street.
Seattle Children’s offers monthly free helmet fitting and helmet giveaway events around the community. Visit their page for specific details! https://www.seattlechildrens.org/health-safety/keeping-kids-healthy/prevention/kohls-helmet-safety/
It heats up in the summertime here in the PNW, but few homes are equipped with air conditioning to keep cool. As a result, windows are often opened up wide to allow a breeze. Unfortunately, this leads to accidental window falls as children lean on the screens, which are not meant to hold a child’s weight. A quick fix is to look for Window Safety Kits which can contain window stops, to control how far a window can open, and to keep cribs or furniture that children can climb on away from windows.
That being said, while summer requires a renewed focus on safety, don’t lose sight of the fun this season can bring. Get outside with your children, relax, and enjoy the free vitamin D provided by the much-needed sunshine!
Dr. Alyssa Ludke is a pediatrician in the Allegro Pediatrics Factoria location.