At Premier Medical Group our pediatricians are here to provide some essential tips to keep you and your family healthy and safe. Whether you’re heading on a much needed vacation or sending your kids off to camp, here are some important tips to keep in mind.
Skin Protection – Start Healthy Habits Now
Occurrence of skin cancer – including melanoma, the most serious skin cancer – is rising and young people are no exception. Babies six months or younger should stay out of the sun completely but all children need protection from the sun’s burning rays. One blistering sunburn in childhood doubles the chance of developing melanoma later in life. The skin of a young person is delicate, thinner and has less of the skin protecting pigment, melanin, so parents need to be extra vigilant about sun protection all the time. Ultra violet (UV) rays reach the skin’s pigment producing melanin cells, called melanocytes, and cause DNA damage to the skin.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that all children, regardless of their skin tone, wear a broad spectrum (UVA and UVB coverage) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. If staying outdoors for long periods of time, or sweating or swimming, be sure to reapply often and encourage your kids to ask for more sunscreen on a regular basis. Establishing this habit now will protect their skin for life. Suggesting to kids that they play in the shade part of the time is also helpful. Sun glasses are not just showing off, they will protect the eyes from burning rays. Even small children should use protective eye wear in bright sunlight.
Hydration is Essential
Keeping hydrated is not only good for your overall health but it makes sense that dry skin and tissue is more likely to burn. Packing a frozen water bottle to give your child a cool drink before, during and after activity is important. In fact the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends:
- 1-3 years: about 4 cups
- 4 – 8 years: about 5 cups
- 9-13 years: about 8 cups for boys, about 7 cups for girls
- 14-18 years: about 11 cups for boys, about 8 cups for girls
That’s probably more than you expected, but according to Premier Medical Group Pediatrician, Dr. Kimberly Clare: “Children can become dehydrated when more fluid leaves the body than enters it. The body needs water to maintain a balanced body temperature, to make bodily fluids and for day to day functions.Young children and babies are at greater risk of becoming dehydrated than adults. Keeping your child hydrated is important at all times, but especially when they are unwell.” Be aware that diarrhea or vomiting can quickly lead to dehydration.
Staying Safe in and on the Water
Water is a magnet for kids and therefore it pays to be hyper-vigilant in and around water, no matter how shallow. Here’s a useful water safety checklist:
- Enroll your child in swimming classes early and check on their progress
- Wear a life jacket
- Never swim alone, never let your guard down
- Watch the weather
- Avoid rip currents
- Remember, when kids are in the water, even if it’s cloudy, they can get sunburn.
An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure
You want your child to enjoy every minute of their summer. So it makes sense that without being too protective, it’s important to guard against common summer injuries.
Bicycle, Scooter and Skateboard Safety
Falling from a bike can be dangerous and cause cuts, scrapes, fractures and concussions. If a vehicle is involved, it can even be fatal. The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute states that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head and brain injury by up to 88% for both adults and children. Knee and elbow pads can also help to minimize injury from falls. In addition, a well fitted helmet and padding can reduce risk of injury from skateboard and scooter accidents as well. Make sure that your kids use equipment correctly and follow rules of the road and common courtesy.
Food and Allergies
Food allergies occur in 1 in 13 children. Alert anyone watching your child of an allergy and prepare them should a reaction occur. Don’t press a child to eat a particular food. If they say no, just accept it, they may not want to talk about their condition, but they know better than to eat it. Additional considerations:
- Be careful sharing food with other people if you’ve never had it before
- Clearly label food and keep separate from other food
- Ask parents if there are allergies for you to be aware of
Mosquitoes, Ticks, Leeches and Bees
- Use insect repellent
- Check for ticks after being outdoors
- When your children are swimming or paddling in freshwater lakes or ponds, take a container of salt. If they have a leech attached, the salt sprinkled on it will make it let go.
- If your child is allergic to wasp or bee stings, travel with an Epipen or discuss what precautions to take with your pediatrician.
Book Physicals Early!
Book your child’s physicals for sports and summer camps. Request a copy of their vaccination record and make sure all their recommended vaccinations are up to date.