Summer Safety Tips: Water, Sun & Bugs

By Stacy Brown

It’s almost summer time! With COVID-19, summertime may look a lot different than years past. But, safety is always important! In this blog post from Pediatrician, Dr. Mona Amin, she discusses summer safety tips for you and your little ones: water safety, sun safety, and bug safety. 

Dr. Mona is a board certified Pediatrician in Florida, and has a popular Instagram and Podcast @Pedsdoctalk where she focuses on helping parents understand how they can implement strategies to help foster healthy habits from a young age to raise well-adjusted children.

Kid Summer Safety Tips

As a Pediatrician in Florida (and new mom to son Ryaan), I'm all about promoting sun protection for kids. And wearing your stylish Roshambo Shades comes hand-in-hand with that! Here are a few of my summer safety tips to keep your kids safe around your home and out in your community this summer.*

Drowning/Water Safety

Drowning is one of the top causes of injury and death in children. It kills nearly 1000 children every year in the US. It just takes one distracted moment for a child to slip away into a nearby body of water. That body of water can be a lake, pool, ocean, river, pond, and even a bathtub or toilet. Kids between the ages of 1-4 are at risk because of their curious nature and may not have adequate swimming skills. The other age groups at risk are teenagers as they are overconfident about their swimming skills and may combine alcohol or drugs while swimming.

Drowning IS preventable. Here are some kids water safety tips:

Around the House

  • Never leave a small child alone or in the care of another child while near a body of water including during bath time. 

  • Do not leave toddlers alone in the bathroom. Toilet locks can prevent drowning of toddlers.

  • Empty water from containers, such as big containers or buckets.

    Swimming Lessons

    • Swim lessons are great around the age of 1 if they are showing signs of readiness, however a guardian should still be with the child at all times when swimming. 

      • Signs of readiness include: emotional maturity and you are able to provide supervised frequency of exposure to water. They will need a lot of exposure to learn how to swim and be comfortable doing so. 

      • I personally like swim lessons after the four-month mark and/or when baby has better head control. At this age, this is mainly allowing the child to get used to being in the water. Depending on the COVID situation, we will take Ryaan to swim class around 6 months.

      • For children younger than 3, parents should be participating with the child and limiting time with head submerged under water. Floaties are okay but can give children a false sense of security. Please continue to monitor them whether you use floaties or not.

      • Classes should be taught by certified teachers and be fun, with an option of one-on-one learning. Some programs claim to teach water survival skills less than 12 months old. There Is no evidence that it is actually effective in preventing drowning.  Swim lessons do not “drown-proof” a child, so please always supervise the child! 

      Assign a WATER MONITOR

      This should be an adult who knows how to swim and who knows CPR. This monitor cannot be chatting with their back turned to the water, on their cell phone, or intoxicated. Their eyes HAVE to be on the water. I also encourage you to count the tops of the heads of the children in the pool. Many times, when there are a lot of kids in the pool in a cluster, one kid can go under water and with the splashing and noise, you will not hear the struggle. Please remember: Drowning is not like in the movies where there are flailing arms. Drowning is silent! 

      Visiting Friends

      If you are visiting a friend’s house who doesn’t having fencing for their pool, please keep an eye on your toddler at all times. They can easily slip out a back door. If your child is missing, ALWAYS check the pool first! 

      Pool Fencing

      Place a pool fence around the pool or spa. Children are able to climb out windows, through a doggy door, and can easily slip out of an unlocked back door and into the backyard unattended. Fencing should also have nothing alongside it like patio furniture that they can climb on top and over. The fencing should be at least 4 feet high and have no footholds for kids to be able to climb. Have a gate that is self-closing and self-closing with a handle at least 54 inches from the bottom of the gate so they can’t reach. 

      Pool Covers

      Be careful of automatic pool covers. Children can still slip under them. Pool alarms are fine too, but a fence as mentioned is the most important prevention!

      Sun Safety

      Children need to be protected from the sun as their skin is sensitive and most sun exposure happens in childhood. They spend a lot of time outdoors, especially in the summer and we need to protect their youthful skin from harmful UV rays. Remember that the sun’s UV rays also come through on overcast days, so don’t forget to apply sunscreen on cloudy days also! 

      Too much unprotected sun exposure can lead to painful sunburns, damage to the eyes, wrinkles, sunspots, an discoloration of the skin. It’s also thought that repetitive sunburns in childhood and adolescence increases the risk of melanoma. 

      We can all have fun in the sun, but here are some sun safety tips: 

      For Babies Under 6 Months

      • Keep babies out of direct sunlight. Use an umbrella, tree, or stroller canopy to cover them. 

      • Try to avoid being outside during peak sun-time. This is when the sun is directly overhead (between 10am-4pm).

      • Put on a brimmed hat that protects their delicate face, ears, and neck. 

      • Dress them in breathable clothing that covers their arms and legs. 

      • When necessary (shade is not available and you have to be outside), apply a minimal amount of sunscreen 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Use sunscreen with at least a SPF 15 to small areas like the infant’s face and back of the hands. 

      • Personally, I advise families to try to avoid prolonged sun exposure as much as possible under the age of 6 months. 

      For Babies & Children Over 6 Months

      • For prolonged outdoor activities for children above 6 months, try to avoid peak sun time. If you must be outside, make sure to bring an umbrella or find a shady spots for occasional relief from the sun.

      • Put a brimmed hat on your child to protect their delicate face, ears, and neck. 

      • Dress your child in sun safe clothing! Clothing with a certified UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating is ideal. This includes one of my favorite brands, Lark Adventurewear. They make UPF 50+ clothing that is breathable, durable and protects your little ones against sun exposure and sweat-related heat rashes.

      • When you are choosing sun safe clothing, look for clothes with a tight weave. This means that if you hold it up to the sun, little light comes through the weaves. The more light that comes through, the more sun gets in. 

      • Apply sunscreen with a SPF 15 or greater to all exposed areas 30 minutes prior to sun exposure.  

      • If you’re going to be somewhere with a chance of no shade, have your child wear sunglasses with at least 99% UV protection. Roshambo Baby Sunglasses are great for babies, toddlers and kids and are necessary for beach days, barbecues, etc when shade may not always be available. Look for kid’s sizes that fit their face and are comfortable. Read more Eye Care Safety Tips.

      • Set an example yourself. Remember to wear sunglasses and reapply your sunscreen when you reapply theirs. It’s great to use sunblock, but remember that there is a proper way to apply it and reapply it! It’s not enough to apply once and forget it. 

      Here are some tips on ways to choose a sunblock and other tips related to sunblock:

      • Look for SPF 15-50. The additional benefits of SPF 50+ are limited. 

      • The SPF number indicates how well a sunscreen protects against UVB rays. If it takes you 10 minutes to burn without sunscreen, applying an SPF 15 sunblock will take 15 times longer to burn (150 minutes of sun exposure before burning). 

      • Look for a sunblock that says “broad-spectrum” on the label. This encompasses protection against UVA and UVB rays

      • Look for UVA star ratings (1-4). 4 is the highest protection available.

      • Remember to always test a small amount of the sunscreen on a portion of the body to make sure your child isn’t sensitive to the sunscreen! 

      • Choose a water-resistant sunscreen and still remember to reapply every two hours or after getting wet. Rub into skin well! 

      • For sensitive areas (nose, cheeks, and top of the ears), choose a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These may not dissolve into the skin and will remain visible.

      Sun safety is important for the whole family. Enjoy the summer and remember that sun safety is important on cloudy days and winter days also. 

      Bug Safety

      I am VERY sensitive to bug bites--I have always been. We did a hike to Machu Picchu 5 years ago and I was negligent of my insect-bite prevention. I got 64 mosquito bites from head to toe. Yes, I counted them. 

      Insect bites are common and can lead to itching and irritation--and in some cases infection. Bites occur as a reaction to the insect’s saliva. There are many things that cause insect bites: biting and stinging insects.

      • Biting insects include: mosquitos, ticks, fleas, chiggers, spiders, biting flies.

      • Stinging insects include: bees, hornets, and wasps.

      If your child is bit by an insect and develops shortness of breath, pallor, difficulty breathing, or facial swelling—medical attention is immediately necessary! 

      If your child’s inspect bite is very painful, has any pus drainage, or has a fever; it's a good idea to also get it checked out to make sure it is not infected. Granted you are monitoring for infection or an allergic reaction, here are my remedies for bug bites:

      • To reduce swelling, ice any areas the day you see the bug bite. If they allow you!  

      • I LOVE @eczemahoneyco skin-soothing cream for bug bite relief. When I get bit, I rub the ointment on my bites before bed. It provides a cooling effect and the honey acts as a great anti-inflammatory. 

      • Calamine lotion and/or hydrocortisone 1% the day you noticed the spots until they are gone to reduce the inflammation.

      • Avoid topical Benadryl as it is largely ineffective and can cause local skin irritation. If needed and your child is over 6 months, you can do children’s Benadryl or Zyrtec.  

      • Trim fingernails to reduce scratching and infection. 

      But what about ways to PREVENT bug bites?

      • Don’t use scented soaps, perfumes, or hair sprays on your child.

      • Be careful around stagnant water—that's where mosquitos loves to congregate

      • If possible, dress the child in long sleeves and long pants, especially at dusk or dawn when insects are most likely to be out AND during hikes in wooded areas.

      • Use insect repellant: DEET, Picaridin, or essential oils

      • Avoid combination sunscreen/insect repellant products because sunscreen needs to be applied every two hours and insect repellants should not be applied this often.

      • Avoid the eyes and hands for babies/infants/toddlers. 

      DEET is a safe product used to repel insects. It can be used in babies over 2 months. For children under 12, use bug spray with a DEET less than 30% 

      • Considered the best repellant. It is the #1 recommended insect repellant for kids and adults and is safe. 

      • DEET somehow got a bad reputation in the 1980s from reports of encephalopathy (brain swelling) in children exposed to DEET. However, no evidence suggests that DEET was the cause of these reports and more recent research demonstrates no adverse effects of DEET. 

      How much and how young? 

      • Under 2 months, no DEET. 

      • 2 months - 2 years: one application a day with DEET <10%

      • Over 2 years, DEET 10-30% with no more than 3 applications a day 

      • 10% DEET provides protection for about 2-3 hours and 30% protects for about 6-8 hours. Read the packages for frequency of application instructions. Do not use more than recommended! 

      Summer is my favorite season and I hope you safely enjoy any sunshine or relaxation you can with these safety tips and your Roshambo Shades!

       

      About Dr. Mona

      Dr. Mona Amin is a board certified Pediatrician and new mom. She loves sharing her experience and education in Pediatric Medicine and Motherhood with the world on her Instagram @pedsdoctalk and The Pedsdoctalk Podcast. After completing a degree in Psychobiology at UCLA, Dr. Mona went to medical school in Arizona and ultimately completed residency in Upstate NY. She met her husband while in residency who is an Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr Mona's passion in pediatric medicine includes early childhood development and behavior. She enjoys educating families on healthy sleep, eating, and coping skills in the first 5 years of life. She loved educating families on ways to keep their children mindful and safe. Follow her @pedsdoctalk for more! 

      *Dr. Mona Disclaimer

      All information presented in this blog, her Instagram, and her podcast is for educational purposes and should not be taken as personal medical advice. These platforms are to educate and should not replace the medical judgment of a licensed healthcare provider who is evaluating a patient. It is the responsibility of the guardian to seek appropriate medical attention when they are concerned about their child. All opinions are her own and do no reflect the opinions of Roshambo Baby, her employer or hospitals she may be affiliated with. https://pedsdoctalk.com/