Fun in the Sun: Summer Safety Tips for Families

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Fun in the Sun: Summer Safety Tips for Families

May 26, 2021
posted by Justin Triemstra


Although the warm weather hibernated a bit longer than usual in the Midwest this year, it has finally arrived! The flowers are blooming, the grass is green, and everyone is excited to spend time outside, being active and enjoying nature. The mittens, hats and gloves have been put away, and the sunscreen, sun hats, and swimsuits have replaced them. At this time, it is important all parents and caregivers remind themselves of summer safety tips to keep their child safe. This list is not meant to be exhaustive but to highlight three key areas of summer safety for children.


Sun Safety

Sun safety is an important aspect of summer safety. If you have a child 6 months or younger, they should be kept out of direct sunlight and wear protective clothing and a hat at all times. Older children should readily apply sunscreen if they are going to be in the sun, specifically between 10:00am and 4:00pm. Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours, more frequently if playing in water. The sun protection factor (SPF) should be at a minimum of 15, and there is limited data on benefits of sunscreen of SPF 50 and above.

In addition to sunscreen, ensuring proper hydration is another component of sun safety. Children can become dehydrated quickly, especially in hot, humid weather, so ensuring fluids are replenished frequently will keep your child hydrated and happy as they play outdoors.


Water Safety

Water safety is one of the most important topics for summer safety for pediatricians. For this reason, pediatricians and associations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics have stressed water safety and adult supervision of swimming regularly. The most important thing to remember is to never leave a child alone in a body or pool of water, even if only a couple inches deep. Always ensure there is proper supervision, barriers are in place, and the pool meets local code and regulations. Pediatricians encourage swim lessons and use of life jackets to ensure further safety. Taking these measures, in addition to others, will help keep a child safe when swimming in pools, lakes, and oceans.


Backyard and Neighborhood Safety

The hum of children playing in backyards and neighborhood parks has returned and will likely increase as in-person or virtual school finishes up. Similarly to water safety, adult supervision on playgrounds is important to maintain a safe play environment for children. Parks utilizing mats, shredded rubber, woodchips, or sand allow a soft cushion in case of falls. As your child chooses their ‘vehicle’ to take to the park, always make sure the child is wearing a helmet. Helmets are a requirement, a necessity, and even a life-saving piece of play equipment.


Summer 2021

Finally, a note on COVID-19. At the time of this post, any child over the age of 12 is eligible for the COVID vaccine. However, those younger than 12 will have to wait till later this summer/early fall for their eligibility. Therefore, according to CDC guidelines, children less than 12 years of age will still need to wear masks when physical distancing is not possible. Throughout the summer, continue to check and always follow local guidelines & regulations.


In closing, we are all looking forward to a summer closer to our memories of pre-pandemic summers. With proper adult supervision and involvement, children can have an active, fun, and safe summer.


Justin Triemstra, MD

Spectrum Health, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital

The views in this article are my own and are for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice.