by Dr. Darren Scoggin

Summer is right around the corner! Time to dust off the beach bags, get some sunscreen, and get outdoors! This post is designed to discuss some tips to help you prepare for a fun-filled, safe summer.

1. Watch out for the sun! We all know that UV radiation can be harmful to our skin, but did you know that there’s more to sunscreen than just the degree of SPF? Some sunscreens may still be found that are limited to either UV-A or UV-B rays; be sure to pick a broad-spectrum lotion with coverage for both. SPF 30 is generally acceptable for most people (at least SPF 15 and up to SPF 50). Also, don’t forget your sunglasses which should provide UV protection for your eyes. Babies under 6 months of age should not be in direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time and should generally avoid sunscreen.

2. Watch out for the bugs! Not only can insects be annoying, but many carry diseases. It’s important to remember to wear protective clothing or apply appropriate bug spray prior to going outdoors. Insect repellants are not recommended for infants less than 2 months of age, and children should not use products with more than 30% DEET.

3. Watch out for your head! Summer is a great opportunity for kids and teens to be outdoors and engage in physical activity. At the same time, it is the prime opportunity for head injuries to occur. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability in pediatrics, especially among children 0-4 years old and teens 15-19 years old. Kids should always wear a helmet when riding a bike, ATV, or skateboard.

4. Watch out for the water! Unfortunately, drownings are all-too-common news headlines in summer months. Pools should have a fence around all four sides to protect children from wandering in unsupervised. There should always be a responsible adult present (and attentive) during all water activities for children. While swimming lessons can improve children’s safety in and around the pool, they are not a replacement for adequate supervision.

These are just a few ways that you can help your family have a safe, fun summer. For more information, call your pediatrician or check out the website HealthyChildren.org, produced by the American Academy of Pediatrics.