For the Summer
Warren M. Seigel, M.D., F.A.A.P.
is here and summer is coming. After a long winter indoors, parents
often start to ask that age-old question: ďWhat am I going to
do with the kids this summer?Ē A little advance planning can go
a long way towards guaranteeing a fun and safe summer for all.
that a suntan is not a sign of good health. It is a sign that
the skin has been injured. Too much sun causes wrinkles, freckles,
dilated blood vessels and leads to skin cancer. Children are particularly
prone to bad sunburns and research has shown that most of our
lifetime sun exposure occurs before the age of 20.
Make sure your child is wearing a sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection
Factor) of at least 15 on all exposed skin at least 20 minutes
before he or she goes out in the sun. It should also be applied
on cloudy days since it is the invisible ultraviolet (UV) rays
that are most dangerous. Reapply the sunscreen every three to
four hours and when your child comes out of the water. Symptoms
of overexposure to the sun include: skin tenderness, pain, swelling
and blistering. If your child exhibits fever, chills, upset stomach
or confusion, these are signs of serious sunburn and prompt medical
attention is warranted.
Try to avoid the sun in the middle of the day. Schedule outdoor
activities before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. Encourage everyone
to wear a hat when outside in the sun. The use of umbrellas and
sunglasses is also a wonderful way to protect your child.
Donít forget that parents set an example for their children. Practice
safe sun habits yourself and you increase the likelihood that
your child will follow the rules of sun safety.
Water, whether swimming, boating or just splashing around, is
often a childís biggest summer playground. It can also be one
of the biggest hazards for children. Drowning is the third most
common cause of death in children under the age of five. As soon
as possible, usually when your child reaches the age of three
and/or is toilet trained, consider swimming lessons. Remember
that even a child who knows how to swim needs to be watched constantly.
Stay away from pool diving boards, and at the beach watch out
for undertow and stay in lifeguard-supervised area.
Donít forget to remind experienced swimmers that diving into shallow
water, a strong undertow or exhaustion pose significant risks
to their health. Encourage a good time, but donít forget to review
the rules of water safety.
often take the opportunity to put a lot of miles on their bicycles,
skateboards, scooters or in-line skates during the warm summer
months. Make sure that your child knows (and obeys) the rules
of the road. Enforce the first rule: Always wear a helmet when
on the road. Teach your child to walk his or her bicycle across
the street at crosswalks, and to use proper hand signals when
making turns. Protect elbows and knees to avoid scrapes and bruises.
Everyone wants to enjoy the summer. Make sure that you know where
your children are and what they are doing, and encourage them
to keep you informed. Making plans now will help everyone be ready
for a safe and enjoyable summer.
Seigel is Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, Coney Island Hospital,
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
(212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: email@example.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of
the publisher. © 2001.