Summer Safety Tips For Children
Summer is a time for fun and frolic but at the same time it is essential that children remain protected. Parul Chopra gives some important summer safety tips for your children
Playing in the sun
- Babies under 6 months
Avoiding sun exposure and dressing infants in lightweight clothes with hats are the best to prevent sunburn. However when adequate clothing and shade are not available, a minimal amount of sunscreen can be applied to areas such as the infant's face and the back of the hands.
- Young Children
Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside. The Sun Protection Factor should be at least 15.
- Older Children
The first and the best line of defense against the sun is covering up. Wearing a hat, sunglasses and light cotton clothing is helpful. Stay in the shade whenever possible, and avoid sun exposure during the peak intensity hours - between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Use a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or greater.
The intensity of activities that last for 15 minutes or more should be reduced whenever high heat and humidity reach critical levels. Before prolonged physical activity, the child should be well hydrated. During the activity, periodic fluid intake should be enforced. Clothing should be light-coloured and lightweight and limited to one layer of absorbent material to facilitate evaporation of sweat.
Safety while swimming
- Never leave children alone in or near the pool.
- Avoid using inflatable swimming aids. They are not a substitute for approved life vests and can give children a false sense of security.
- Children are not developmentally ready for swimming lessons until they are four years old.
- Swim programs for children under 4 should not be seen as a way to decrease the risk of drowning.
- Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within an arm's length, providing supervision.
Prevent mosquito bites
- Do not use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your child.
- Avoid areas where insects congregate, such as stagnant pools of water and uncovered foods.
- To remove a visible stinger from skin, gently scrape it off horizontally.
- Insect repellents containing DEET (N, N diethyl-m-toluamide) are the most effective.
- Make children sleep in rooms that are properly screened with gauze/screen/wire-mesh over the windows and doors. There should be no holes in the gauze/screen/wire-mesh and no unscreened entry points to the room. Air-conditioned rooms are good, too.
- Spray the room with an insecticide before entering to kill any mosquitoes that may have got inside during the day.
- Avoid unnecessary outdoor activity when mosquitoes are most prevalent, such as dawn, dusk and early evening. Mosquitoes bite particularly at twilight and at night, so you should take most precautions during this time.
Playing it safe in the playground
- Carefully maintain all equipment.
- Swings should be made of soft materials such as rubber, plastic or canvas.
- Make sure children cannot reach any moving parts that might pinch or trap any body part.
- Make sure metal slides are cool to prevent children's legs from getting burned.
- Parents should never purchase a home trampoline or allow children to use home trampolines.
- Do not push your child to ride a 2-wheeled bike until he or she is ready, at about age 5 or 6. Consider the child's coordination and desire to learn to ride.
- Take your child with you when you shop for the bicycle, so that he or she can try it out.
- Buy a bicycle that is the right size, not one that your child has to grow into. Oversized bicycles are especially dangerous.
- Your child needs to wear a helmet every time he uses the bicycle, no matter how short or how close to home. Many accidents happen in driveways, on sidewalks, and on bike paths, not just on streets. A helmet protects your child from serious injury, and should always be worn.
- Buckle up car seats and seat belts.
- Keep supplies with you, such as snacks, water, a first aid kit and any medicines your child takes.
- Put your child in the back seat. It is the safest place in the car because it is farthest away from a head-on crash (the most common type of crash).
- While travelling by a car, it is advisable to halt every few hours. A toddler who remains inactive for long is sure to become cranky.
- If travelling by air, try and take a window seat. Looking out of the window may amuse the toddler and help him pass the time. Putting cotton wool in his ears during take-off and landing helps the child. As a result of pressurization changes during flight, earaches are not uncommon in children, especially during descent. Encourage children to yawn, chew, or swallow to equalise the pressure in the middle ear.
- Children travelling alone to visit relatives or attend summer camp should have a copy of their medical information with them at all times.
Is your child at home alone?