Summer safety tips for kids

Rose Green-Flores
Special to the Lake Sun, USA TODAY NETWORK
A mother is helping her son put on a life jacket.

Summer is the ultimate laid-back time for kids. Parents, help keep the good times rolling by making safety an important part of summer fun.

“Have you ever had a bad sunburn?” said Kimber Guinn, D.O., MBA, a pediatrician at Lake Regional Clinic – Lake Ozark. “If so, you know it’s not fun. You can protect your children from the sun and other summer safety hazards by following a few tips.”

Sun Safety

Limit your child’s sun exposure, particularly during 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest. And make sure your family uses sunscreen, even on cloudy days. American Academy of Dermatology recommends that children older than six months of age wear an SPF of 30 or higher. Sunscreen should be reapplied every couple of hours. Try to avoid sunscreens that also have insect repellent because insect repellent should not be reapplied as frequently.

“A sunburn can happen within 15 minutes, and repeated sunburns as a child can lead to skin cancer later in life,” Dr. Guinn said. “Sun safety is your most important prevention tool. Keep infants out of the sun and in the shade. Use sunscreens that provide UVA and UVB protection. And don’t forget the sunglasses.”

If your child gets a sunburn, have them take a cool shower or bath. Over-the-counter pain medications and moisturizing creams can help with sunburn pain.

“Seek medical attention for a severe sunburn, especially if it is accompanied by a fever,” Dr. Guinn said.

Water Safety

Never take your eyes off little ones near water — not even for a minute. Kids can drown in the time it takes you to answer a text message or engage in some other brief distraction.

“Small children can drown in as little as a few inches of water,” Dr. Guinn said. “Whether it is a pool, the lake or a bucket of water, never leave your child unattended around water. And it is important to know that drowning can happen silently, so you might not be alerted by splashing. Kids also need close supervision even at public pools where lifeguards are on duty.”

Teach your children water safety rules, such as no one should ever swim alone, ask permission before getting in the water and enter water feet first. Start swimming lessons early, and know kids might need refresher lessons along the way. Although pool toys and floats can be a lot of fun, they should not be used in place of life jackets or swim vests.

Boating Safety

Drowning is the cause of most boating-related deaths, but the majority of those deaths could have been prevented by wearing a life jacket. Under Missouri law, children age seven and under are required to wear a life jacket on board, but older children also should be encouraged to wear their jackets.

“Adults should set the example for kids by wearing a life jacket too,” Dr. Guinn said. “Ensure your child’s life jacket fits properly before getting on the boat. Thankfully, life jackets on the market now are more comfortable than previous models, and there are multiple child-size life jacket options.”

Children can find it very tempting to dangle their arms outside of the boat or peer over the edge, but that can be dangerous. Remind children, and adults, to keep all body parts in the boat. Everyone should also keep a safe distance from the boat’s propeller.

“No matter the activity, you also need to make sure your family is staying hydrated,” Dr. Guinn said. “You can make drinking water fun by adding fruit to flavor the water or making homemade popsicles. Children aged 12 to 24 months can have one to four cups of water per day, and children 2 years to 5 years should have one to five cups per day. As a child gets older, they should be drinking more water. For older children and teens, I usually recommend at least eight cups of water per day.”

To make an appointment with Dr. Guinn, call Lake Regional Clinic – Lake Ozark at 573-365-2318 or request an appointment at lakeregional.com/appointment. Virtual visits are available.

Rose Green-Flores is the Public Relations specialist for Lake Regional Health System