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Article Archive >> Featured Topics

Tourism: Summer Safety

Summer Safety
by Jacqueline Seewald

We all want to enjoy the summer months. But a few precautions taken are more likely to ensure that enjoyment. There are many factors to consider in providing our children and ourselves with summer safety. For example, skin is the natural protective covering of the body; our skin is the largest organ of our bodies. During the summer months, skin is more vulnerable and needs more protection. So let's examine some basics.
Skin Problems:
Sunburn:
The summer heat guarantees that a good deal of skin will be exposed. One problem to deal with is sunburn. It would be ideal if you could get your child to wear a hat, sunglasses and a white shirt in direct sunlight. Are you able to do that? Probably not. Even small children will resist. So what can you do? Sunblock and sunscreen do not completely prevent problems. They also wear off. If sunburn does become a problem, consider providing an oatmeal bath. Simply fill a tub with luke warm water, then grind up oatmeal in the blender and scatter it in the tub. Oatmeal is soothing to burned skin. My husband's grandmother sponged with vinegar and we find that soothing as well. If these homeopathic methods don't work, contact your pediatrician.
Rashes caused by plants:
Poison ivy and poison oak are eased by cold milk compresses. That old standby Calamine lotion provides excellent relief as well. But again, it's best to check with your child's physician.
Insect bites:
Bee and wasp stings can be serious and dangerous. Making a paste from unseasoned meat tenderizer can have immediate relief from the itching. I've had to use this any number of times for my husband and sons as well as myself. For anyone who is allergic to such stings, it's best to keep an antihistamine on hand. Again, discuss this with your child's doctor.
Heat Rash:
This is a very common problem with small children. What has worked best for my own children has been cornstarch. I put it in a salt shaker and then shook it on the irritated areas. Perspiration is absorbed by cornstarch, which dries the skin.
For the most comprehensive information available on this subject, go to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP website ).
Here are some useful suggestions from this site:
Fun in the Sun, Source: http://www.aap.org/advocacy/archives/tanning.htm
Babies under 6 months:
* Avoiding sun exposure and dressing infants in lightweight long pants and long-sleeved shirts and brimmed hats are still the top recommendations from the AAP to prevent sunburn. However when adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen to small areas, such as the infant's face and the back of the hands.
For Young Children:
* Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside, and use sunscreen even on cloudy days. The SPF should be at least 15.
For Older Children:
* The first, and best, line of defense against the sun is covering up. Wear a hat with a three-inch brim or a bill facing forward, sunglasses (look for sunglasses that block 99-100% of ultraviolet rays), and cotton clothing with a tight weave.
* Stay in the shade whenever possible, and avoid sun exposure during the peak intensity hours-between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
* Use a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or greater. Be sure to apply enough sunscreen - about one-ounce per sitting for a young adult.
* Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
Heat Stress in Exercising Children, Source: http://www.aap.org/policy/re9845.html
* The intensity of activities that last 15 minutes or more should be reduced whenever high heat and humidity reach critical levels. (See policy statement for details)
* At the beginning of a strenuous exercise program or after traveling to a warmer climate, the intensity and duration of exercise should be limited initially and then gradually increased during a period of 10 to 14 days to accomplish acclimatization to the heat.
* Before prolonged physical activity, the child should be well hydrated. During the activity, periodic drinking should be enforced, e.g., each 20 minutes, 5 oz of cold tap water or a flavored sports drink for a child weighing 88 lbs., and 9 oz for an adolescent weighing 132 lbs., even if the child does not feel thirsty.
* Clothing should be light-colored and lightweight and limited to one layer of absorbent material to facilitate evaporation of sweat. Dry garments should replace sweat-saturated garments.
Bug Safety:
* Don't use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your child.
* Avoid areas where insects nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and gardens where flowers are in bloom.
* Avoid dressing your child in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints.
* To remove a visible stinger from skin, gently scrape it off horizontally with a credit card or your fingernail.
* Insect repellents containing DEET are the most effective.
* The concentration of DEET in products may range from less than 10 percent to over 30 percent. The benefits of DEET reach a peak at a concentration of 30 percent, the maximum concentration currently recommended for infants and children. DEET should not be used on children under 2 months of age.
* The concentration of DEET varies significantly from product to product, so read the label of any product you purchase.
For more information on DEET: http://www.aapnews.org/cgi/content/full/e200399v1
Enjoy your summer fun but keep safe!

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