Summer is finally upon us, although as usual, Mother Nature had a few tricks up her sleeve for everyone before letting us venture outside to enjoy the outdoors. Although it may look a little different from the summers of the past, summer safety is still an important topic.
As a family medicine physician, I often reiterate to my patients how important it is to be mindful of health dangers during the summer months. So, as you and your loved ones take to the outdoors, keep the following in mind.
Did you know, the CDC reports drowning is the leading injury cause of death for children aged one to four? When you get ready to swim – in the backyard or a public space – here are a few things you can do to ensure your family stays safe.
Always make sure there is a designated responsible adult in charge of monitoring children in the water. You do not want to be in the “I thought you were watching them” situation.
Swim lessons! It is never too late to introduce water safety and swim techniques to your children. There are even a few local swim lesson options open during COVID-19.
Life jackets play a role in saving lives, so make sure you have one that is Coast Guard certified (or this one). Even if your child/children is a strong swimmer, it is important to have this tool on hand. Remember, this does not take the place of having a responsible adult monitoring the water.
Talk to your kiddos about diving into shallow water, and make sure any shallow pools or areas are clearly marked.
If you have a pool at home, make sure there is fencing around the full perimeter to protect your family and others from mistakenly falling in.
Sun Safety – Don’t Feel the Burn!
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer is the number one diagnosed form of cancer, and while we do need sunlight for our well-being and healthy vitamin D, just a few blistering burns in childhood raises our children’s risk of skin cancer significantly.
Here is the skinny on making sure you can safely enjoy those summer rays.
Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and “broad spectrum”, or sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection.
If you can, apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going out into the sun to allow for optimal protection.
Make sure you reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, after swimming, and if sweating heavily.
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are great sunscreen ingredients that physically block the sun’s rays but do not get absorbed into the bloodstream.
Check your sunscreen expiration. If older than 1-2 years, they lose their potency and need to be tossed.
Hats, sunglasses, and light-colored or SPF clothing are great options to help physically block and reflect harmful rays.
The sun’s rays are at the highest potency between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so avoiding excessive exposure during these times can help reduce the risk of a burn.
Playgrounds are finally open, and what better way to spend time with your kiddos than running around at the park?
Even though playgrounds are designed exclusively for children, they still require supervision and are not always injury-free.
The CDC reports 200,000 children a year are seen in emergency departments due to injuries at playgrounds. Here are some quick tips for outdoor playtime safety.
Always check the temperature of the equipment before your kid hops on. In the heat of the day, some play structures can cause significant burns.
Did you know most playgrounds have labels showing age-appropriate guidelines? Using this guide can help reduce injury.
Monkey bars, climbing equipment, and swings are the top culprits for injury. Close supervision when using this type of equipment is key.
Choose playgrounds that have soft ground underneath like mulch, bark, or sand. These soft pads reduce the risk of bone breaks and head injuries.
Don’t Let the Bugs, Snakes or Spiders Bite
COVID-19 has certainly changed the way we entertain our family, and we all want to soak up the outdoor time with loved ones.
Stay in the know about outdoor critters who can potentially disrupt your outside time – think West Nile, Lyme, or Zika Virus to name a few. Here is what we do to stay out of harm’s way.
Wear insect repellent, particularly when around water and other mosquito prone areas.
Northern Nevada Health System is a regional network of care that has elevated and improved access to healthcare for 40 years. The System operates two acute care hospitals located in Sparks and Reno, 24/7 freestanding emergency departments, a Medical Group which offers family and internal medicine, urgent care and specialty care, and Quail Surgical and Pain Management. NNHS is committed to maintaining and improving the well-being of the community and is known for top-rated patient satisfaction, in addition to providing quality care and a safe environment for patients to heal. To learn more, visit northernnevadahealth.com.