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Sunshine, s’mores, beach days and lazy mornings. That’s summer for the Schaffers, even with this global pandemic. While there aren’t quite as many activities to do this summer as in recent years, I’ve made it my mission to prep for summer safety. With the temperature on the rise and four littles who can’t wait to get out of the house, I’m ready to take on sunburns, bug bites and boo-boos like nobody’s business.
Year after year, we look forward to a new set of summer adventures. This summer we’re social distancing, but one thing remains. After San Diego’s June gloom, the sun is shining brighter than before, and with it, the need to be outdoors! This year, it’s more beach time, more backyard camping and more bike riding than ever before!
But the more active they become, the more prepared Mom has to be. Common kid ailments during these warm months can have us parents scrambling at the time of the incident. I’m happy to share the important summer safety tips that I’ve learned that every parent should know—and preferably before your summer activities begin.
Excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays increases your risk of developing skin cancer, regardless of age, gender, or race. Approximately one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
My kids all started swimming around three years old and were water babies right from the start. When at the pool or on the beach, they’ve been known to stay in the water for hours. And even without swimming this summer, they want to stay outside in the sun as long as they can. That’s why it’s so important as a parent to understand the difference between UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B), and why broad-spectrum sunscreen is important.
In our lifetime, most of us are exposed to large amounts of UVA. It has been known to play a major part in aging and wrinkling skin. UVA also contributes to the development of skin cancers. UVA rays are most prevalent during daytime hours.
UVB is the chief cause of sunburn. It also plays another key role in the development of skin cancer. UVB rays can damage your skin all year round and is the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The Importance of Sunblock
Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, this super cool mama doc from Seattle, mentioned in her video that if you can, at all times, cover up. Covering up is the best protection from the sun’s harmful rays. Bypass the chemicals on your kids’ skin by covering up! And when your family’s skin is exposed to the sun, the best thing you can use is a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
Broad-spectrum sunscreen protects your skin from both the UVA and UVB rays. When you look at the SPF (Sun Protective Factor), that number is only protecting you against the UVB rays, however, with a broad-spectrum sunscreen, it’s protecting you and your littles against both UVA and UVB.
For the best in summer safety, it is recommended to use an SPF of at least 30 or above and apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before you venture out. According to Dr. Swanson, you should reapply every 1-2 hours if swimming. One brilliant tip for toddlers she shares in her video below is to apply sunscreen while still in their car seat. I can tell you from experience, it works like a charm.
There are two types of sunscreens: chemical and physical. Physical sunscreens protect your skin from the sun by deflecting or blocking the sun’s rays. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun’s rays.
Beware of Bug Bites
With a love for s’mores and campouts, over the years, camping in our own back yard has become the summer norm for our tribe. Especially this summer with parks opening and closing due to COVID-19. But unfortunately, with any summer night, comes those not-so-wanted insects.
Of course long sleeves and pants help to protect the kids, but if you are using insect repellent, make sure you don’t put it directly on a child’s face, eyes or nose. Dr. Swanson recommends an EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) registered repellent. To be registered by EPA, these products must have safety and effectiveness data, which the EPA evaluates before allowing them on the market.
Insect repellents applied to the skin are often what we think of when we want to avoid insect bites. For kids, you’ll want to apply to your hands first before applying it to the areas of your child you want to protect.
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Insect Repellent Tips & Info
An excellent resource for more information on bug repellent is the Know Your OTC’s website. Here, you can find the best advice and best practices for over-the-counter analgesics and what you should know as a parent if your child does get bit. Here are a few more tips:
- Don’t mix insect repellent with sunscreen
- Know the difference between internal and external analgesics
- Don’t put it on under clothes
- Don’t use insect repellent on children under two months of age
- Always read age restrictions on the bottles.
Always keep babies and infants out of direct sunlight. Parents shouldn’t use sunscreen on a child younger than 6 months old.
Watching Out For Cuts & Scrapes
My kids run around like they’re competing in the X games every day, and the faster they’re going means the more fun they’re having. As expected, this high adrenaline lifestyle makes them even more prone to cuts and scrapes. Thus, I always keep an arsenal of band-aids and topical antibiotic ointment in my home, car and purse.
After having four kids, staying calm and taking care of a wound is something I’m probably an expert at. According to Dr. Swanson, just running a wound under water for 30 seconds to two minutes is more than enough to clean it out. Pat it dry and put some antibiotic ointment on the wound for no more than one to three days. Cover it with a band-aid allowing a little air in it and you are good to go.
Have your traveling first aid kits handy so you, too, can be ready for the slips and falls that come with childhood. For more information on summer safety, including skin protectant medicines and how they work, check out the Know Your OTCs site.
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Prepare For Playtime
My children’s imaginations inspire me every day. Their creativity is constant, and watching them play together is not only a great source of entertainment, but I can see the love they have for one another. And that gives mom a sense of comfort.
Their explorations still seem to come with incidents, however, making me somewhat of a nervous wreck at times. As much as I enjoy getting down to my little one’s level and kissing boo-boos, sometimes I fail to calm my injured little one. I’ve learned that remembering to take a deep breath and being prepared can help to ease what could be a chaotic situation. I feel more in control and can let my little ones take their explorations to much greater heights with the satisfaction of knowing I’m prepped on summer safety.
Being prepared for all the ailments that can come with summer is the best thing a mom can do. KnowyourOTCs.org has been an excellent resource for me and has equipped me with everything I need to know this summer. Where are your kids’ explorations taking you this summer?
For infants and toddlers over six months, it is best to use a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as it is most appropriate for sensitive skin.