Summer safetyThis week, I asked a wonderful doctor with Health East, Kavita Monteiro, to provide us with essential tips for helping our kids have a safe and healthy summer.  Kavita kindly agreed and is sharing the following information so our kids can hopefully  avoid some common summer hazards. Kavita is also a mom and I love that she provided tips that she’s used with her own kids, too. Feel free to add other safety tips that you think are important on my blog below.

1. What is the #1 summer safety issue for kids that you see in the summer months?

Dr. Monteiro: When thinking of summer safety three main things come to my mind :  helmets, drowning prevention, sunblock/ skin cancer prevention.

2. We know that sunscreen is important to use. Kids are notoriously impatient when it comes to putting on sunscreen. Is it OK to use the spray sunscreen or should we take the time to use the rub on type? Are there certain ingredients that we want to avoid in sunscreens such as parabens or Oxybenzone?  Are there certain ingredients that are more effective that we should be using? Are there any brands that you recommend?

Dr. Monteiro: When my own children tell me they do not need sunscreen I remind them that applying sunscreen is much more fun than having parts of your skin cut off because they have turned cancerous.  If your children have ever seen anybody who has had skin cancer excised it might be a good idea to remind them gently about what they saw to help motivate them.

Use sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, with both UVA and UVB protection.  Sunscreen wears off. Put it on again if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours, and after you swim or do things that make you sweat.  Sunscreen works best when you apply it daily.  It absorbs into the skin and then protects you even when you forget to put some on.  A healthy routine would be to apply sunscreen (or moisturizer with sunscreen in it) to all potentially sun exposed skin after bathing so that the next time you are in the sun you will be protected.  Check the sunscreen’s expiration date, it generally should be replaced if it is over a year old.  Don’t forget sunglasses with UV protection protect your eyes from sun damage.

The main difference between rub-on sunscreen and spray-on sunscreen is convenience.  It is also possible that spray on sunscreen would be more irritating to the skin, but if it does not irritate your skin it still offers protection and is definitely better than nothing.  Ingredients like parabens and oxybenzone can irritate the skin but if they do not irritate your skin and you would not apply sunblock if you did not have the convenience of the spray on I recommend using spray on.

If you do end up choosing the convenience of spray-on sun products then you need to be very conscientious about application. I recommend two coats to ensure even coverage. Apply indoors (if possible) or in a sheltered area away from the wind, and rub the product in after spraying.  I have seen sunburn in a speckled pattern from uneven coverage when it was not applied evenly or rubbed in.

I have heard a dermatologist I know, recommend Neutrogena brand sun screen, but any sunblock that does not irritate your skin is fine.

3. Should bike helmets be mandatory when biking? Do you recommend that adults wear them, too?

Dr. Monteiro: I strongly recommend wearing a helmet whenever you have wheels under your body.

Skateboards, rollerblades, bikes, scooters, Ripsticks, Pumgos and any other gliding devices should be used with a helmet.

My kids try to tell me that they don’t need to wear a helmet in our driveway, or when they are using her scooter versus when they use their bikes.  I showed them the following videos to convince them to wear their helmets.  They wear them all the time now.

If you need help convincing your kids you might consider showing them these thought provoking videos.  Please preview beforehand as they are potentially graphic for some youngsters.

4. Lyme disease is becoming more prevalent in our region. What are the best precautions we can take? What symptoms should we be on the alert for that might indicate Lyme disease is present?

Dr. Monteiro: Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases are transmitted through the deer tick.  Wood ticks and dog ticks do not transmit the same disease.  Ticks must be attached to her skin for more than 48 hours to transmit the disease.  To be on the safe side we will recommend that you check skin every 24 hours, or each night before bed.  Ticks need to have a blood meal in order to transmit the disease.  If the tick is crawling on her skin but not attached or if it is attached but has not become engorged there is virtually no risk to having had disease transmission.  I would recommend saving the tick in a zip lock bag along with the name of the person it was attached to and the date.  This could then later be used for identification.

You can view pictures of deer ticks on the internet.

Lyme disease can be identified by a rash that would be expected to show up about a month after the tick bite.  The rash is characterized by redness on the edges and more normal colored skin in the center. It is also possible to get a high fever.  If this is noted please seek medical attention.
5. Are there any special swimming rules/lake rules/swimming pool rules that you want to remind us of?

Dr. Monteiro: Drowning only takes a few moments.  In addition it is a silent event.  Drowning  that you see in movies which are very loud and noisy and characterized by a lot of splashing is not representative of reality.
There are videos helping to identify a drowning child that you can find on the internet by googling  ‘drowning is silent video’.    Never read when you should be watching your kids at the pool side.  Also if your kids are going to be near a body of water you should be supervising them at all times.  Life jackets are important around any body of water deeper than 2 inches especially if your children are not expert swimmers.  Arm floats are not adequate to prevent from drowning. There have, unfortunately been reports of small children drowning in as little as 2 inches of water.  Please be mindful of watching your kids constantly around water.

6. Heat stroke may be another summer hazard. What advice can you give us to avoid it?

Dr. Monteiro: Here is an excellent link to an article on preventing heat stroke.

7. What mosquito repellant do you recommend for kids? Should it contain DEET or not?

Dr. Monteiro: According to the FDA:  Insect repellents containing DEET should not be used on children under 2 months of age. Oil of lemon eucalyptus products should not be used on children under 3 years of age.

When applying insect repellents to children, avoid their hands, around the eyes, and cut or irritated skin. Do not allow children to handle insect repellents. When using on children, apply to your own hands and then put it on the child. After returning indoors, wash your child’s treated skin or bathe the child. Clothes exposed to insect repellants should be washed with soap and water.

Contact info:
Kavita Monteiro MD
HealthEast Stillwater Clinic
2900 Curve Crest Blvd Stillwater MN 55082

Please add your tips about summer safety here.

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