Jennifer Rodriguez, BS, CIMI, CPST, Injury prevention coordinator, Injury Prevention Program, MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach
The summer season brings the hot sun, trips to the pool and beaches, and fireworks lighting up the night sky. This summer, keep safety top of mind, so your family can enjoy the fun, while staying happy and healthy.
Sunburns are caused by overexposure to UV rays and can cause long-term damage to skin and increase the risk of skin cancer later in life. For babies and toddlers, their skin is delicate, thinner, and produces less melanin, a skin protecting pigment – making it even more important to protect them from the sun. Tips to help protect your child from the sun:
- Seek shade. UV rays are strongest and most harmful during midday. If you and your baby enjoy walking, its best to go for a walk before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. and use a stroller with a sun protective cover.
- Dress them in wide-brimmed hats that shade the face, scalp, ears and neck.
- Use removable mesh window shields to keep direct sunlight from coming in through the windows of your car or invest in UV window film.
- Kids should also wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays. Even one day in the sun can lead to a burned cornea, plus sun exposure over time can cause cataracts later in life. Most sunglasses in the U.S. regardless of cost, meet this standard.
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and continue to reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating. Sunscreen can no longer claim to be waterproof, only water-resistant. For infants, it’s best to avoid using sunscreen and dress them in lightweight sun protective clothing that breathes and covers their arms and legs. Infant’s skin doesn’t have the ability to metabolize and excrete chemicals often found in sunscreen. For babies six to twelve months, apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and UVA and UVB (broad spectrum protection). Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your child’s ears, nose, lips and the tops of feet!
Drowning is a leading cause of death for children. For every child who dies from drowning, another eight receive emergency department care for near drowning accidents. The best way to prevent this from happening is to be water safe.
- Never leave your child in the water without adult supervision, no matter how shallow the water. Kids can drown even in a small bucket of water.
- Don’t depend on flotation devices to protect your child.
- Enroll your child in formal swimming lessons to reduce the risk of drowning.
- Install barriers, such as pool fencing, to prevent unsupervised access.
- Become CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certified. In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, CPR skills may save a child’s life.
- Wear properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices, such as life jackets and vests created for children and adults.
One in every five children under the age of 15 that die in traffic crashes were pedestrians. The main risk factor being high speed or distracted drivers not paying attention to the road. One of the best ways to prevent a pedestrian related injury or death is to be seen — kids and teens should wear bright clothes or reflective gear to make them more visible to others. Tips to remind your child and teen on ways to be safe on the road:
- Look left-right-left and behind for traffic before crossing the road.
- Cross in marked crosswalks, at intersections or where drivers expect pedestrians.
- Do not step into the roadway until the driver has stopped for you or has acknowledged your intent to cross with eye contact, a wave or a nod.
- Walk focused and alert. No texting, or anything that takes your eyes, ears, or your mind off the road and traffic. If you’re listening to music, make sure you keep the volume low.
- Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
- Watch for cars entering and exiting driveways and alleys.
Protect your family by preventing bites and diseases, like West Nile virus and Lyme disease, which can be transmitted by insects.
- Avoid areas where insects’ nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water.
- Use insect repellents containing DEET. The CDC recommendation for children older than 2-months-of-age is to use 10% to 30% DEET.
- DEET should not be used on children younger than 2-months-old.
- Avoid combination sunscreen/insect repellent products. Reapply sunscreen and insect repellent as directed on the label. Apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
- For most species of mosquitoes in the U.S., their activity peaks during the dusk hours.
- When outside in the evenings, cover up with long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks.
Fireworks can be a spectacular event, but they also can cause serious injuries.
- Attend a public fireworks display.
- Always have adult supervision and have an adult light the fireworks.
- Light one firework at a time and don’t relight a dud.
- Use only legal fireworks and never try to make your own.
- Have a safety plan, including a bucket of water or hose.
- Soak all fireworks before throwing them away.
- Keep sparklers away from your child’s face, hair and clothing.
These are just some of the ways to keep you and your family safe during the summer. To learn more about ways to keep you and your family safe visit millerchildrens.org/injuryprevention.
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