School’s out and so is the sun, but along with warm weather and outdoor adventures, summer can also bring unfortunate injuries. Kids are especially prone to mishaps since they’re so active, so it’s important to take special precautions. Here are five ways to keep your kids healthy this summer:
1. Choose the right sunblock.
You know sunblock is essential, but the type you choose is important too. I recommend a physical blocker as opposed to a chemical one since it sits on top of the skin and offers superior protection. Just make sure the active ingredients include zinc oxide or titanium oxide and that the label promises broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. SPF 30 is perfectly sufficient as long as it’s reapplied every two hours, and a water-resistant brand is best since it withstands sweat. You can use a small amount on infants, but their primary protection should be long sleeves, a hat, and plenty of shade; it’s best to keep little ones under 6 months out of the sun as much as possible.
2. Stay safe in the streets.
Whether your child skates, bikes, or zips around on a hoverboard, a helmet is a must. The most important consideration is size — make sure they try it on in the store to ensure the right fit. And even if your kid isn’t on wheels, make sure they know basic street safety like looking left, right, then left again when watching for cars.
3. Practice good pool habits.
Kids as old as 8 should be within arm’s reach any time they’re in the pool — even if they know how to swim. It only takes a second for accidents to happen, so it’s best to stay close. While floaties can be fun, they also make kids overconfident in their water skills, so keep the arm’s distance rule even if they’re buoyed by floatation devices. And if you have a pool at home, make sure it’s surrounded on all sides by a 4-foot safety gate that’s child-proof.
4. Prevent and treat mosquito bites the right way.
There are several things you can do to limit mosquito bites. Children 2 months or older can safely wear repellents containing DEET, IR3535 or picaridin, but make sure the concentration is 10 percent or less. Rather than opting for a spray, try to find wipes, which offer more precise application and less fumes. If you’d prefer chemical-free alternatives, citronella, lemongrass, and eucalyptus oils can be effective, but they haven’t been studied in children under three. If your child does get a bite, apply over-the-counter 1 percent hydrocortisone or a baking soda and water paste to stop the itching.
5. Stay hydrated in hot weather.
Drinking enough fluids is important any time of year, but it’s especially crucial while running around in hot weather. Kids between ages 4 and 8 should aim for about five cups of liquid a day, and teenagers should strive for seven to 11. Water’s the best choice, but milk, as well as limited amounts of juice, can also be hydrating. Check out these ideas for easy healthy drinks you can make at home.
With these tips in mind, you and your kids should have a happy and healthy summer full of fun. And if you do need a pediatrician, please stop by One Medical’s Oakland office to see me.
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