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With school out for the summer, Jamie Harden, who serves as the Safe Kids Coordinator for Shannon, answers questions about how to keep children safe during summer.
What is your background?
I have been the Safe Kids San Angelo coordinator for four years. In that time, I have had the pleasure of delivering injury prevention programs, intervention activities and health education to caretakers and children in our community. From child passenger safety, home and water safety, burn and poison prevention, pedestrian safety, and bike safety, Safe Kids brings awareness to these topics and provides the tools needed in hopes of preventing unnecessary childhood injuries.
What are some important things to keep in mind about health and safety during summer that we may not think about the rest of the year?
Parents need to be extra mindful of the importance of protecting their children from the sun’s harmful rays during hot summer months.
- Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. Find shade under a tree, an umbrella, or a stroller with a canopy.
- Limit your sun exposure between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm when UV rays are strongest.
- Use a sunscreen that says "broad-spectrum" on the label; that means it will screen out both UVB and UVA rays.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 (up to SPF 50). An SPF of 15 or 30 should be fine for most people. More research studies are needed to test if sunscreen with more than SPF 50 offers any extra protection.
- Put sunscreen on 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors so that it has time to absorb into the skin.
- Use sunscreen any time you or your child spend time outdoors. Remember that you can get sunburn even on cloudy days because up to 80% of the sun's UV rays can get through the clouds. Also, UV rays can bounce back from water, sand, snow, and concrete, so make sure you're protected.
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or drying off with a towel.
What about staying hydrated?
Parents need to also ensure their children are staying hydrated during the summer months. Children need to drink water throughout the day, to help maintain their body temperature, make bodily fluids and for day-to-day functioning. Make sure to always pack a water bottle when heading out to the park, go on an outing or playing outside. Below is how much water children need daily to maintain hydration:
- 4 to 8 years old: 5 cups
- 9 to 13 years old: 5 to 6 cups
- 14 to 18 years old: 6 to 8 cups
If your child begins showing signs of mild dehydration, which can include feeling dizzy or lightheaded, nausea, headache, or having dark yellow or brown urine, the best treatment is to give your child more fluid to drink, such as water or oral rehydration solutions. You can purchase these from your local pharmacy or supermarket. Signs of severe dehydration can include becoming pale, having rapid breathing or a fast heart rate, or having dark and sunken eyes, contact your child’s GP immediately or head to your closest hospital emergency department.
What about bug spray?
San Angelo has received a lot of rain over the past few weeks which has brought out the mosquitoes. Be sure to have bug spray on hand when heading outside to avoid getting bitten. Do not apply around the eyes or mouth. Spray the outside of your children’s clothing and on exposed skin and use sparingly. A little goes a long way.
Is there an event where parents can learn more about keeping their children safe during the summer?
Yes! Shannon and Safe Kids is having a Summer Safety Event today from 4:30-6:30 PM at the Goodfellow Recreation Camp on 1950 S. Concho Drive. Children can get a free life jacket and parents can learn about different ways to keep your child safe this summer.