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
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FUN IN THE SUN
Babies under 6 months:
- To prevent sunburn the AAP recommends
that infants avoid sun exposure, and are dressed 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 and the back
of the hands. If an infant gets a sunburn, apply cool compresses to the
For All Other
HEAT STRESS IN EXERCISING CHILDREN
- The first, and best, line of
defense against harmful ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure is avoiding
sun exposure by covering up. Stay in the shade whenever possible, and
limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours - between 10 a.m. and 4
- 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.
- On both sunny and cloudy days
use a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or greater that protects against UVA and
- Be sure to apply enough
sunscreen -- about one ounce per application for a young adult.
- Reapply sunscreen every two
hours, and 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.
- 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 acclimate to the heat, particularly if it is
- 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 clothing.
- 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 nauseated.
Infants and small children are not able to regulate their body temperature in
the same way that adults do. Every year, children die from heat stroke from
being left in a hot car, often unintentionally, with the majority of these
deaths occurring in children 3 and under. Here are a few tips for parents when
traveling in a car with infants or young children:
- Always check the back seat to
make sure all children are out of the car when you arrive at your
- Avoid distractions while
driving, especially cell phone use.
- Be especially aware of kids in
the car when there is a change from the routine, ie. someone else is
driving them in the morning, or you take a different route to work or
- Have your childcare provider
call if your child has not arrived within 10 minutes of the expected
- Place your cell phone, bag or
purse in the back seat, so you are reminded to check the back seat when
you arrive at your destination.
- The inside of a car can reach
dangerous temperatures quickly, even when the outside temperature is not
hot. Never leave a child alone in a car, even if you expect to come back
soon. Lock your car when it is parked so children cannot get in without
- Never leave children alone in
or near water, even for a moment; close supervision by a responsible adult
is the best way to prevent drowning in children.
- Less experienced swimmers and
children under age 5 in or around water should have an adult – preferably
one who knows how to swim and perform CPR – within arm's length, providing
- Never swim alone. Even good
swimmers need buddies!
- Designate a “water watcher”
when you are in, on or around water.
- Because drowning can be quick
and quiet, the water watcher should pay constant attention, be
undistracted, not involved in any other activity such as reading, playing cards, on
the phone, while supervising children, even if lifeguards are present.
- 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, or
- 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
- The safest fence is one that surrounds
all 4 sides of the pool and completely separates the pool from the house
and yard. If the house serves as the fourth side of the fence, 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
jackets and can give children and parents a false sense of security.
- Children over age 1 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 age.
- The decision to enroll a child
over age one in swimming lessons should be made by the parent based on the
child's developmental readiness and exposure to water, 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 fittings 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 unsupervised access.
- If a child is missing, look for
him or her in the pool or spa first.
- Share safety instructions with
family, friends and neighbors.
OPEN WATER SWIMMING
- Children should wear life
jackets at all times when on boats, docks or near bodies of water. Adults
should wear life jackets for their own protection, and to set a good
- Make sure the life jacket is
the right size for your child. The jacket should not be loose and 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
- Adolescents and adults should
be warned of the dangers of boating even as a passenger when under the
influence of alcohol, drugs, and even some prescription medications.
- 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 www.healthychildren.org
Copyright © 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics. Please feel free to use tips
in any print or broadcast story with appropriate attribution of source.