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National Safety Month – Summer Safety

June is National Safety Month.

Did you know the leading cause of death in children in the US is accidents/unintentional injuries? This means, these types of deaths are completely preventable. I would never typically start an article this way, but I’m absolutely stunned by this statistic. I’ve worked in healthcare since 2016, witnessing some of the most heartbreaking and preventable accidents. I’ve worked in pediatrics for the past 3 years and plan to continue for the rest of my career. There’s nothing I love more than helping children learn and grow, and above all, stay safe. 

When it comes to safety for our children, it all starts with education. When accidents happen, often times parents don’t always have the most up-to-date information or training. Getting educated and asking questions is the best way to get begin. Your child’s pediatrician is a great place to start.

Because the list of safety precautions can feel like it’s never ending – let’s focus on summertime safety. Not only is this the best time of the year for kids; it can also be the most dangerous. Things like swimming, boating, bike riding, and more are taking place daily. There are so many simple things we can do to keep our kids safe while having so much fun. 

 Helmets 

I can hear it now, “I don’t want to wear my helmet! It’s too hot, the straps hurt, my friend isn’t wearing one”. This needs to be a non-negotiable. If they don’t wear their helmet, they don’t ride. A helmet should always be worn during wheeled activities. Bike helmets are a little broader and can be worn while on a scooter or roller skates. When it comes to skateboards or ATVs, a certified helmet should be worn for that specific activity.

First, take your kids with you to pick out their own helmet – they will be more likely to remember to grab it before they head off to ride if it’s something they pick out. The helmet should be level and fit snug but not too tight. It shouldn’t rock if the child is moving around. The straps should make a “V” shape around the ear, coming to a point under the ear. The buckle should lay flat against the skin, but again, not too tight. You can find a video guide to helmet fitting here. Parents should set a good example and wear helmets as well, especially on family bike rides. Head injuries can be lifelong and are easily preventable. 

 Swimming 

Water is truly the best part of the summer – there’s no better way to cool off on a hot, humid summer day! Kids of all ages love to experience pools, lakes, and boating – and luckily, there are so many ways to do it safely. Knowing how to choose the right products is an important first step when it comes to a day full of fun.  

When choosing a swimsuit for your littles, the brighter the better. I’m talking like neon and florescent bright – yellows, oranges, light greens, and pinks are best. Not only do these stand out when in the water, they make your kids stand out at a waterpark or busy public pool. I really like this chart that shows swimsuit colors in the water at different depths.

Obviously, kids should never be in water without an adult present. Children who can’t swim should wear a lifejacket – I tend to steer clear of puddle jumpers as they pull the child forward, forcing their face into the water. When being out on the open water, a coast guard approved jacket is to be worn. This is another non-negotiable. Getting the right size and fit will make this a more comfortable experience for everyone. Typically, lifejackets will be sized by weight. This is something else a child could help pick out, making it more exciting to wear. For kids who want to work on swim skills, here’s a great article from a fellow Cedar Rapids Moms member about swim lessons offered in the area.

 Sunscreen & Bug Spray  

Choosing a sunscreen can be overwhelming, there are way too many options as you walk through the aisles. First and foremost, you want to choose a sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide – a mineral based sunscreen is best. You want to choose one that’s broad spectrum (covering both UVA and UVB rays) and at least an SPF of 30. Sunscreen is only for children 6 months of age and up, so those newborns should stay in the shade.  

Whether you choose a spray, cream, or stick is completely up to you. I like sticks for the face, cream for the body, and sprays for reapplications. A good mom hack I learned a year ago or so is to use a beauty blender for face applications. It may seem overkill, but if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors, you should be reapplying sunscreen every two hours. I like sprays for this, due to the convenience.  This might seem silly but it’s something I didn’t know – to evenly disperse, you should rub in spray sunscreen. 

Contrary to some current beliefs, when choosing an insect repellent, the experts do suggest a spray with DEET. However, DEET can be harsh on sensitive skin so choosing a spray with a low percentage of DEET can be beneficial in this instance. If you have no concerns of being in an area with known insect-borne illness, such as Lyme Disease, more natural based sprays can be effective against mosquitos. Apply insect repellent on exposed skin and on top of clothing. Reapply throughout the day, especially while in dense wooded areas. If you want to read more on DEET and insect repellents, here’s a great article from a credible source.

 Being Prepared is Key

Accidents can happen – preparing yourself is the best thing you can do. Knowing CPR and first aid is crucial, along with keeping up on re-certifications as needed. Even as nurse, I appreciate the refresher when I have to re-certify. You can contact your local Red Cross, American Heart Association, or even local community college. It scary to think about ever having to use CPR skills but it’s truly important in so many ways. 

My intention is not to scare you, but to help you. National Safety Month is the first month of summertime and a good time to do a check in on all things “safety” in your own home. Throw out all your expired summer products (I know I need to do this), do a helmet and life jacket fitting, and pack the van with all the safety essentials you may need. Above all, have the best (and safe) summer!

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