Protect Your Family from these 5 Summer Health Risks
Summertime brings warmer weather and longer days, as well as some seasonal health risks. Before your kids run out to play, make sure you’re doing everything possible to protect them from the sun, bugs, allergic reactions, and other summer threats.
Too much sun during childhood does more than cause painful sunburns; overexposure increases the risk of skin cancer later in life. Protect your little ones now and in the future with a healthy sun strategy.
The sun’s rays are strongest during the midday hours, so limit outings between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside; reapply every two hours and after sweating or swimming. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends SPF 15 or higher.
Blood-sucking pests carry serious diseases and cause allergic reactions in some children. Mosquitoes are worse at dusk, and ticks thrive in warm, woody areas. Dress children in light colors and long pants and sleeves, and remove standing water, which mosquitoes use for breeding.
Apply DEET bug repellent to skin (perhaps on kids older than 6) and clothing when insects are a threat. Sprays containing 30 percent DEET protect for up to five hours. Products with oil of lemon, eucalyptus, or picaridin are also effective, and some people have luck with clip-on repellent pads.
Summer is the season for allergies, but not all threats come from outside. Dusty or outdated HVAC systems can wreak havoc on asthma and allergies. When you can’t escape the pollen, dander, and dust by coming indoors, what do you do?
Start by vacuuming daily, lowering your indoor humidity, changing your air filter, and washing bedding and rugs. If that’s not enough, have your HVAC inspected and cleaned by a professional. It’s surprising how much pollen, dust, and other allergens build up in your HVAC system over time. A professional can keep your system clean and running efficiently throughout peak allergy season and all year long.
Too much fun in the sun can be dangerous, and the risk of heat-related illness is greatest during summer when high humidity impairs the body’s natural cooling process. Children may not complain of thirst until they’re on the brink of dehydration, so offer water every 30 minutes during play.
Dry or sticky mouth, muscle cramping, headache, fatigue, dizziness, irritability, and confusion may indicate dehydration or heat stroke. Watch out for hot swings, slides, and metal car seat buckles that can burn your child’s skin. And never leave a child alone in a car.
Swimming is one of the greatest joys of summer, but it’s also one of the biggest dangers. It takes only two inches of water and a couple of minutes for a child to drown. Keeping children safe around water requires constant supervision and the right information.
Contrary to what most believe, drowning is quick and quiet. Children rarely splash or cry out for help. If you’re on your cell phone or reading a book, you may not even know a child is struggling. Don’t get distracted, teach your children to avoid water unless with an adult, and refresh your CPR certification annually.
There’s certainly no shortage of things to worry about during summer, but a little thought and preparation can mean a happy — and safe — season for everyone.