Sum-Sum-Summer Time Safety

PROTECT YOUNG SKIN Children are very vulnerable to the rays of the summer sun. “Our skin grows in layers, and the younger a child is, the thinner and more delicate their skin is, making them more prone to sunburn,” says Georgia J. Smith, MSN, MHA, RN, OCN, Executive Director of Cancer Services, HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital and Prevea Health. “One blistering sunburn during youth can raise the risk for melanoma as an adult. Protect skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen and avoid direct sun when its rays are strongest.” To avoid damaging sunburn:

  • Avoid sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt and cover your head with a hat.
  •  Drape a cover over the top of your child if he or she is in a playpen or stroller.
  •  Keep babies out of direct sunlight until their first birthdays.

Do not apply sunscreen to babies younger than six months old because some chemicals may irritate their skin. Once your child turns six months old, liberally apply sunscreen with a sun-protection factor of 30 or higher 15 minutes before going outside and every two hours after that, as well as after swimming or perspiring heavily. A child younger than 12 years of age should not spend more than two hours at a time in direct sunlight.

WATERSIDE SAFETY Splashing around is a favorite summer activity for children and adults alike. It is also one that must be approached with care. As you head to the waterfront, remember:

  • Children who do not know how to swim should never be in or around the water without adult supervision. 
  • Don’t rely on flotation devices to support your children in the water. If they do not know how to swim, make sure they are wearing life preservers.
  • Enroll your child in swimming lessons as early as possible to learn how to swim and tread water properly. Choose a professional organization, such as the YMCA, local park, or recreation center, for proper instruction.
  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as a family.

“It only takes seconds for an accident to happen near water,” says Jennifer Sherbinow, Executive Director at Chippewa Valley Family YMCA. “Know your environment. Talk to your kids about water and boat safety. Enroll them in swimming lessons as soon as you can. The earlier they learn, the better.”

DURING THE GOLDEN YEARS

Warm temperatures raise the risk for dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Those older than age 50 are especially vulnerable, because as you age your body has a harder time adjusting to temperature changes and conserving water. To help ensure that you and your loved ones stay safe, cool, and hydrated, keep these tips in mind:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
  • Enjoy the comfort of air conditioning as often as possible.
  •  If you are planning to be outside for a long period of time, let a loved one know.
  •  Protect skin from long wave ultraviolet (UVA) and short wave ultraviolet (UVB) rays by applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.
  • Avoid direct sun and intense heat.
  • When outside, wear hats and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, as well as protective eyewear.

Some warning signs of heat exhaustion include confusion, dizziness, fainting, flushed skin, headaches, and a rapid pulse. “Heat-related conditions can set in fairly quickly if you do not take the proper precautions before spending time outdoors,” says Jaimie Clark, RN, Home Health at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital. “If you are a senior, let your family and friends know when you are planning to spend extended time outside. If you know someone who is elderly, check on them frequently during the summer months.”

Sweating is your body’s number one way to keep cool. Because you are losing fluid through sweat, replacing it is essential. Proper hydration can help your body stay cool. But as you seek to rehydrate, choose your beverages wisely. Loading up on sugary sodas is a surefire way to gain unwanted weight, so try to limit your intake. Instead, focus on refueling your hydration reserve with water. About eight glasses of water each day is a good goal for most people.

When you are extra active or are living with a chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, you may need more. A good rule of thumb for everyone? If your body is telling you it’s thirsty, drink up. Certain sports drinks can be beneficial if you have been exercising vigorously and sweating significantly. The carbohydrates and electrolytes in these beverages replenish your body’s reserves. However, many of these drinks contain caffeine and sugar. Do not consume more than the recommended serving size of any sports beverage.

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