Keep your family safe this summer by following these tips
from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Please feel free to use them in any print or broadcast story with
appropriate attribution of source.
Click here for the Spanish Version.
FUN IN THE SUN
Babies under 6 months:
- The two main
recommendations from the AAP to prevent sunburn are to avoid sun exposure,
and to dress infants in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and
brimmed hats that shade the neck to prevent sunburn. However, when adequate
clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount
of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) to small areas,
such as the infant's face. If an infant gets
sunburn, apply cool compresses to the affected area.
For All Other Children:
- The first, and best, line
of defense against harmful ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure is
covering up. Wear a hat with a three-inch brim or a bill facing forward,
sunglasses (look for sunglasses that provide 97% -100% protection against
both UVA and UVB rays), and clothing with a tight weave.
- Stay in the shade whenever
possible, and limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours - between
10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- On both sunny and cloudy
days use a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or greater that protects against UVA
and UVB rays.
- Be sure to apply enough
sunscreen -- about one ounce per sitting for a young adult.
- Reapply sunscreen every
two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
- Use extra caution near
water and sand (and even snow!) as they reflect UV rays and may result in
sunburn more quickly.
HEAT STRESS IN EXERCISING CHILDREN
- The intensity of
activities that last 15 minutes or more should be reduced whenever high
heat or humidity reach critical levels.
- At the beginning of a
strenuous exercise program or after traveling to a warmer climate, the
intensity and duration of outdoor activities should start low and then
gradually increase over 7 to 14 days to acclimatize to the heat,
particularly if it is very humid.
- Before outdoor physical
activities, children should drink freely and should not feel thirsty. During
activities less than one hour, water alone is fine. Kids should
always have water or a sports drink available and take a break to drink
every 20 minutes while active in the heat.
- Clothing should be light-colored and
lightweight and limited to one layer of absorbent material to facilitate
evaporation of sweat. Sweat-saturated shirts should be replaced by dry
- Practices and games played
in the heat should be shortened and there should be more frequent
water/hydration breaks. Children should promptly move to cooler
environments if they feel dizzy, lightheaded or nauseous.
- Never leave children alone
in or near the pool or spa, even for a moment.
- Whenever infants or
toddlers are in or around water, an adult – preferably one who knows how
to swim and perform CPR – should be within arm’s length, providing “touch
- Install a fence at least 4
feet high around all four sides of the pool. The fence should not have
openings or protrusions that a young child could use to get over, under,
- Make sure pool gates open
out from the pool, and self-close and self-latch at a height children
can't reach. Consider alarms on the gate to alert you when someone opens
the gate. Consider surface wave or underwater alarms as an added layer of
- If the house serves as the
fourth side of a fence surrounding a pool, install an alarm on the exit
door to the yard and the pool. For additional protection, install window
guards on windows facing the pool. Drowning victims have also used pet
doors to gain access to pools. Keep all of your barriers and alarms in
good repair with fresh batteries.
- Keep rescue equipment (a
shepherd's hook – a long pole with a hook on the end — and life
preserver) and a portable telephone near the pool. Choose a shepherd’s
hook and other rescue equipment made of fiberglass or other materials that
do not conduct electricity.
- Avoid inflatable swimming
aids such as “floaties.” They are not a substitute for approved life vests
and can give children and parents a false sense of security.
- Children ages 1 to 4 may
be at a lower risk of drowning if they have had some formal swimming
instruction. However, there is no evidence that swimming lessons or water
survival skills courses can prevent drowning in babies younger than 1 year of
- The decision to enroll a
1- to 4-year-old child in swimming lessons should be made by the parent
and based on the child’s developmental readiness, but swim programs should
never be seen as “drown proofing” a child of any age.
- Avoid entrapment: Suction
from pool and spa drains can trap a swimmer underwater. Do not use a
pool or spa if there are broken or missing drain covers. Ask your
pool operator if your pool or spa’s drains are compliant with the Pool and
Spa Safety Act. If you have a swimming pool or spa, ask your pool service
representative to update your drains and other suction fitting with
anti-entrapment drain covers and other devices or systems. See
PoolSafely.gov for more information on the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and
Spa Safety Act.
- Large, inflatable,
above-ground pools have become increasingly popular for backyard use.
Children may fall in if they lean against the soft side of an inflatable
pool. Although such pools are often exempt from local pool fencing
requirements, it is essential that they be surrounded by an appropriate
fence just as a permanent pool would be so that children cannot gain
- If a child is missing,
look for him or her in the pool or spa first.
- Share safety instructions
with family, friends and neighbors.
- Children should wear life
jackets at all times when on boats or near bodies of water.
- Make sure the life jacket
is the right size for your child. The jacket should not be loose. It
should always be worn as instructed with all straps belted.
- Blow-up water wings, toys,
rafts and air mattresses should not be used as life jackets or personal
flotation devices. Adults should wear life jackets for their own
protection, and to set a good example.
- Adolescents and adults
should be warned of the dangers of boating when under the influence of
alcohol, drugs, and even some prescription medications.
OPEN WATER SWIMMING
- Never swim alone. Even
good swimmers need buddies!
- A lifeguard (or another
adult who knows about water rescue) needs to be watching children whenever
they are in or near the water. Younger children should be closely
supervised while in or near the water – use “touch supervision,” keeping
no more than an arm’s length away.
- Make sure your child knows
never to dive into water except when permitted by an adult who knows the
depth of the water and who has checked for underwater objects.
- Never let your child swim
in canals or any fast moving water.
- Ocean swimming should only
be allowed when a lifeguard is on duty.
- Teach children about rip currents.
If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore until you
escape the current, and then swim back to shore.
For more tips on sun and water safety, visit
Copyright © 2013 American Academy of Pediatrics. Please feel
free to use tips in any print or broadcast story with appropriate attribution