The National Safe Kids Campaign estimates that every year, one in four kids ages 14 and younger will sustain an injury that requires medical attention. Forty percent of all injury-related emergency room visits and 42 percent of all injury deaths happen between May and August, they report, but it's not all bad news. We can keep kids free from about 90 percent of these accidents by educating ourselves and our kids on how to stay safe while still enjoying summer vacation. Over the next few weeks, we are going to provide some guidelines on various topics to help ensure you have the best summer ever!
Be Sun Savvy. Here's a summer-bummer: a person's sunlight exposure during childhood and adolescence is generally considered to increase the risk of melanoma.
- Apply early and repeat. For kids six months and older (as well as adults), sunscreens with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or greater reduce the intensity of UVRs that cause sunburns. Apply liberally 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure so it can absorb into the skin and decrease the likelihood that it will be washed off. Then reapply every two hours and after kids swim, sweat, or dry off with a towel. For most users, proper application and reapplication are more important factors than using a product with a higher SPF.
- Cover. Dress kids in protective clothing and hats. Clothing can be an excellent barrier of ultraviolet rays. Many light-weight sun-protective styles cover the neck, elbows, and knees.
- Keep infants out of the sun. Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight, dressed in cool, comfortable clothing and wearing hats with brims. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says sunscreen may be used on infants younger than 6 months on small areas of skin if adequate clothing and shade are not available.
- Plan early morning play. For kids beyond that baby stage, parents should plan children's outdoor activities to avoid peak-sun hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) as much as possible. Sound impossible for your active kids? Make sure you can get a break from the sun, when needed.
- Beware of shade. Many think sitting in the shade is a simple way out. Shade provides relief from heat but offers parents a false sense of security about UVR protection. People can still sunburn in shade, because light is scattered and reflected. A fair-skinned person sitting under a tree can burn in less than an hour.
- Check the weather. Check the ultra-violet (UV) index (on a site like Weather.com) when planning outdoor activities; it predicts the intensity of UV light for the following day based on the sun's position, cloud movements, altitude, ozone data, and other factors. Higher UV index numbers predict more intense UV light during midday of the following day.