July is upon us, and fun summer outdoor activities are in full swing! Research has shown that playing outdoors can improve children’s overall mental and physical health. Summer is a magical time of outdoor play for children, yet, these days are not completely carefree. There are some guidelines parents should keep top of mind to encourage safety while enjoying the fun summer brings.
When You’re Around Fireworks, Safety is Essential
The Fourth of July and fireworks are a tradition for many families across the nation. Many of whom continue to pop a few fireworks throughout the summer, why not stretch out the enchantment of sparklers and firecrackers? However, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 11,500 people were treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks injuries in 2021. Further, of those reported injuries, children under the age of 15 made up 29% of those injuries. Parts of the body most often burned or wounded were: the hands and fingers, head, face, ears, and eyes, and in some cases death. It’s important to note that there are alternatives to lighting your own fireworks on these warm, star-spangled nights. Consider sharing a variety of glowsticks, led light wands, or glow-in-the-dark bubbles with younger children.
Don’t Let Insects Bug You
Bugs love helping themselves to your picnic treats, and many bugs also enjoy feasting on us! There are some simple ways to make your family less attractive to these pests. Ticks and mosquitos can transmit a variety of diseases, such as Lyme disease, Zika Virus, and West Nile Virus, which is particularly prevalent across Alabama and Louisiana. In addition to West Nile fever, residents of Tennessee see many cases of La Crosse Encephalitis.
- Summer days seem made for brightly colored clothes and floral prints, but these color combos are also eye-catching for insects. When playing outdoors, use an EPA-registered insect repellant that is safe for your family and the environment. Our “Eight Tips for a Safer Summer“ guide shares a useful link for finding the right repellant for your needs. Bear in mind, that combination sunscreen/insect repellent products are not recommended, because sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, while insect repellent should not be reapplied as often.
- Current recommendations for children two months old and above provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control regarding insect repellants containing DEET is to use 10% to 30% DEET. DEET should not be used on children younger than 2 months of age.
Fun in the Sun Requires a Bit of Shade
Babies younger than 6 months old should be kept away from direct sunlight, but everyone in the family should keep their skin protected. It is imperative to note that sun protection is needed for people from all ethnic backgrounds. Practice these simple sun safety tips shared by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Choose clothes for yourself and your children that are cool, comfortable, and lightweight, made with a tight weave; they protect better than clothes with a looser weave. If you’re not sure how tight a fabric’s weave is, hold it up to see how much light shines through. The less light, the better. Or you can look for protective clothing labeled with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF).
- Wear a sunhat with an all-around 3-inch brim to shield the face, ears, and back of the neck, these hats also provide added protection against the aforementioned disease-carrying bugs.
- Limit your sun exposure between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm when UV rays are strongest.
- Wear sunglasses with at least 99% UV protection. Look for youth-sized sunglasses with UV protection for your child. If you see Urgent Care for Children at any summer events near you, we often share some pretty great shades!
- Slather on the sunscreen, use a sunscreen that says “broad-spectrum” on the label; that means it will screen out both UVB and UVA rays.
ATV Tips for Children & Teens
In the south, ATVs and summer are almost a rite of passage, the freedom of an ATV can seem like a major upgrade from your child’s bicycle. However, ATV’s are not toys, operating these motor vehicles is a major responsibility. The American Academy of Pediatrics states, ATV’s Are Not for Children, as studies have shown these all-terrain vehicles are responsible for an average of 31 children per day visiting the ER for head and neck injuries. The Consumer Federation of America has identified the month of July to have the most cases of off-road vehicle deaths, so it is particularly timely to share this information with your friends and family. The ATV institute shares the following eight Golden Rules for ATV Safety:
- Always wear a Department of Transportation-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots and gloves.
- Never ride on paved roads, except to cross a road when it’s safe and permitted by law.
- Never ride or get on a vehicle driven by someone under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Never carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV. For ATVs designed for two people, only two people should ride it.
- Ride an age-appropriate ATV.
- Supervise riders under 16 years old.
- Ride only on safe trails at a safe speed.
- Take a course on ATV safety and make your child do the same prior to riding.
Parents and caregivers might also find this All-Terrain Vehicles guide helpful when discussing ATV safety rules and expectations with their older children.
Water is Always a Great Way to Beat the Heat
There are a number of heat-related illnesses from dehydration to heat stroke. our Heat-Related Illnesses 101 primer is a great reference for the signs and treatment of these occurrences. It is important to stay well hydrated inside, and to be aware of safety rules when keeping your body cool playing in the water outside. We’ve shared our Top 13 Tips for Summer Water Safety to keep your family well prepared for everything from water park visits to a leisurely day at the lake. If you’re planning a special trip to a favorite watering hole, or just hanging out poolside, please share these helpful tips with friends and family.
Urgent Care for Children is standing by to deliver quality care in 20 convenient locations across Alabama, Tennessee, and Louisiana should your family need us. Have fun, plan ahead, and be safe this summer!