Have a safe and fun summer!

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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 scorching 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 have fun while staying happy and healthy.

Sun Safety

Sunburn is caused by overexposure to UV rays and can cause long-term damage to the 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 protective skin pigment, making it even more important to protect them from the sun. Tips to help protect your child from the sun:

  • Seek the shade. UV rays are strongest and most harmful at midday. If you and your baby like to walk, it’s best to go for a walk before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. and use a stroller with a sun cover.
  • Dress them in wide-brimmed hats that shade the face, scalp, ears, and neck.
  • Use removable mesh window screens to block direct sunlight from entering your car windows or invest in UV window film.
  • Children should also wear sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays. Even a day in the sun can lead to corneal burn, and sun exposure over time can cause cataracts later in life. Most sunglasses in the United States, regardless of cost, meet this standard.
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and continue applying it 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 light, breathable sunscreen clothing that covers their arms and legs. Infant skin lacks the ability to metabolize and excrete the chemicals often found in sunscreens. 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 tops of feet!

Water safety

Drowning is a leading cause of death in children. For every child who dies from drowning, eight more receive near-drowning emergency care. The best way to prevent this from happening is to be water sure.

  • Never leave your child in the water without adult supervision, even if the water is shallow. Children can drown even in a small bucket of water.
  • Don’t rely 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 fences, to prevent unsupervised access.
  • Become certified in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). In the time it takes paramedics to arrive, CPR skills can save a child’s life.
  • Wear properly fitting, US Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices, such as life jackets and vests created for children and adults.

Pedestrian safety

One in five children under the age of 15 who die in a road accident were pedestrians. The main risk factor is high speed or distracted drivers who are not paying attention to the road. One of the best ways to prevent injury or death to a pedestrian is to be visible – children and teens should wear bright clothing or reflective clothing to make them more visible to others. Tips for reminding your child and teen of ways to be safe on the road:

  • Look left-right-left and behind traffic before crossing the road.
  • Cross at marked crosswalks, at intersections or where drivers expect pedestrians.
  • Do not enter the roadway until the driver has stopped for you or acknowledged your intention to cross by eye contact, a wave or a nod.
  • Walk focused and alert. No texting or anything that takes your eyes, ears or mind away from the road and traffic. If you’re listening to music, be sure to keep the volume low.
  • Follow the highway code and respect the signs and signals.
  • Watch for cars entering and exiting driveways and alleys.

Bug Security

Protect your family by preventing bites and diseases, such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease, which can be transmitted by insects.

  • Avoid places where insects nest or congregate, such as pools of standing water.
  • Use insect repellents containing DEET. The CDC’s recommendation for children over 2 months old is to use 10% to 30% DEET.
    • DEET should not be used on children under 2 months old.
  • Avoid combination sunscreen/insect repellent products. Reapply sunscreen and insect repellent as directed on the label. Apply sunscreen first, then insect repellent.
  • For most species of mosquitoes in the United States, their activity peaks during the twilight hours.
  • When you go out at night, cover up with long-sleeved shirts, pants, and socks.

Fireworks Safety

Fireworks can be a spectacular event, but they can also cause serious injury.

  • Watch 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 misfire.
  • Use only legal fireworks and never attempt to make your own.
  • Have a safety plan, including a bucket of water or a hose.
  • Soak all fireworks before throwing them away.
  • Keep sparklers away from your child’s face, hair and clothing.

These are just a few of the ways to protect yourself and your family during the summer. To learn more about ways to protect yourself and your family, visit millerchildrens.org/injuryprevention.


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