Summer safety is important whether your kids are home for summer, on the road with you or away at camp. If you want to make sure your summer days aren’t filled with trips to the emergency room, you’ll want to keep an eye out for warning signs of common summer bummers. From heatstroke, bee and wasp stings, and other health woes that occur during summer, we put together a guide on summer safety tips.
Summer Safety Tips: Sunshine Fun
It feels as if these summer days are just getting hotter and hotter. And while playing in the sun can be a lot of fun, overexposure to the sun’s rays can lead to a number of summer emergencies. It’s important to note that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so be extra careful during that time. If you have a child under the age of 1, do your best to keep them out of the sun as much as you can. Dress your baby in lightweight, light-colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants. And always cover their head.
When it is 90° or above and humid, kids should not play outside or exercise for more than 30 minutes at a time. And you’ll want to make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids – even if they say they are not thirsty. Water is best to rehydrate, but electrolyte drinks like Vitamin Water are good options as well. Make sure that they take breaks to cool off in the shade or indoors.
The Rules of Sunscreen
Whenever you or your child is outside, use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 to 30. Choose one that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Always apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside. And do your best to reapply every two hours and after being in the water or sweating. Most of the sun’s burning rays go right through clouds, so use sunscreen even on cloudy days.
Children under 6 months of age can have small amounts of sunscreen put on their faces and the backs of their hands. But always be careful not to get it in their eyes or mouth. You can also find sunglasses for babies and children that provide 100% UV protection.
The Signs of Heatstroke
Heat strokes are no joke. Knowing the warning signs of heatstroke is a way to avoid some serious trouble. The most common first sign of heatstroke is leg cramping. The best thing to do is to cool off and drink water until the cramping goes away. Cramping is a sign that the body is losing salt and electrolytes. When not taken care of, that cramping, paired with sweating, can lead to heavy, profuse sweating, lightheadedness, and nausea. Once you hit the critical level, the body stops sweating entirely as it can no longer cool itself.
Heat strokes are also scary because as the body gets hotter, your blood actually gets thicker. The thicker your blood, the more likely you are to have a stroke. Other signs of heatstroke include:
- Red, hot, dry skin
- Rapid pulse
- Throbbing headache
If You Missed the Signs
When you start to notice heatstroke symptoms, it’s always better to take care of them sooner rather than later. But if you miss the early warning signs you can still cool the body before you have a heat stroke. Put ice packs on the groin, armpits, and neck where the blood flows closest to the surface. Other ways to cool the body include immersing the body in cool water, placing the person in a cool shower, or wrapping the person in a cool, wet blanket.
For some, road trips are a great time. Yet for others, a road trip or long car ride might be a nightmare. No matter how long your drive, always strap children in a properly fitted car seat, booster seat or seat belt. The back seat is the safest place for children to ride. And children in rear-facing car seats should never be placed in the front seat if it has an airbag.
And never, never leave children alone in a car, even for a minute. Children left in cars are at risk for heatstroke, which can lead to death. Other risks are setting the car in motion and getting injured by playing with power controls. Keep empty cars locked at all times.
Just like we mentioned above, you should also never leave children alone in or near the water. Watch children with care in and around water. Have adults take turns being “child watchers” at family events. Young children need to wear life jackets when playing in or near water and while on docks. Children, teens, and adults should wear life jackets for boating and while swimming in lakes, rivers or the ocean. Unfortunately, while new toys and inflatables seem cool, they will not keep children safe. Life jackets are the only flotation aid you can rely on.
Ponds, five-gallon buckets and wading pools are drowning hazards for very young children. Empty water from buckets and wading pools, and make sure children are supervised around water. If you own a pool, make sure to cover it when it is not in use. Ideally, all pools should have a 4-foot, self-latching fence to keep young ones out when pool time is over. Children should swim only when lifeguards are on duty or if an experienced swimmer is watching.
And that old wives’ tale about drowning if you try to swim too soon after eating? The truth is that when you are digesting food, there’s less blood flow in your body. This then takes away from strength, so if you had to really use your strength for undertow, you may have a problem. Our summer safety tip is to wait a half an hour after you eat before getting back in the water.
CPA Counseling Wants to Help with Your Summer Safety and Stress!
Counseling can be a helpful tool to help you make mindfulness techniques a part of your daily life. Sharing your summer stressors with your therapist can help you both stay on the same page and keep you accountable in working towards your goals. Therapy and counseling are safe spaces where you can voice your concerns, develop coping and communication skills, and find the support you need.
Remember, therapy is hard work! It can feel extremely uncomfortable and even exhausting. Having a hand to hold and help guide you will only add to your personal success. Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling has two locations in the South Hills of Pittsburgh and one in the Robinson area. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about how we can help you stress less this summer!
Marissa Betancourt has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. After her studies at Chatham University, she became a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor as well as a Licensed Professional Counselor. She has approximately 5 years of experience working with the dually diagnosed population. She works with people who experience depression, anxiety, mood disorders, personality disorders, and substance use. Marissa uses a mix of motivational interviewing, behavioral therapy, CBT, psycho-education, and gestalt therapy to assist clients with working towards their goals. She is transparent and assertive in the counseling process, helping clients gain insight into past and current behavior. Marissa looks forward to helping you understand your symptoms and working through them at your own pace!