The temperatures are rising and the days are longer, Summer is quickly approaching. Keeping that in mind, as dads there are a few Summer Safety Lessons Kids should know and so should we. For many this article will be a reminder, but for some, especially new dads, this may not be such obvious information.
Either way, I am posting this information to keep us vigilant as parents, and to start our kids off on the most enjoyable summer possible. Lord knows we all need it after the first 6 months of 2020.
Skin Safety During Summer
As the title of this next section suggests, I would like to bring up skin safety in summer. Kids have beautiful, ungrizzled, skin and are vulnerable to sun damage. “Just one blistering sunburn in childhood can double your little one’s lifetime risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer” (Moniger & Goldman).
When I read the previous quote in a Parents.com article, I was horrified but was reminded of a common theme and responsibility that we as parents must remember; everything we do when raising our children is cumulative. I am not trying to scare you out of parenting, but rather trying to empower you to make good decisions for your kids. It’s all important.
Getting back to skin…the best thing you can do for your kids is to protect them from the sun. So that could mean:
Stay in the shade. This is the best option for newborns and infants whose skin is soooo sensitive. We used a Lightspeed pop-up shelter for shade whenever we went to the beach.
My son had many skin anomalies in his first year of life. We often freaked out and took textbook like photos to send to the doctor. More often than not, she would calm us down and tell us it was nothing. My point is, babies have sensitive skin that easily reacts to many things, so do all you can to protect them. Staying in the shade is good, but not always fun for older kids.
If shade is not an option, cover them up. There are all kinds of ways of doing that these days. Rashguards (swim shirts) are very common now and some of them have long sleeves. They are comfortable because they’re worn tight and like a second skin. They aren’t hot because you can get them wet and they are made from a light material.
My son and I both wear rashguards and love them, because we are protected and comfortable in a pool or open water. They add a layer of protection to rough surfaces, preventing scrapes and rashes, hence the name rashguard.
Rashguards are usually rated to SPF 50, which is great for anyone, but they won’t help exposed skin.
Exposed skin must be covered with SUNBLOCK, not sunscreen but BLOCK. If you need to ask why, please refer to my quote at the beginning of this article and/or the reference at the end of this article. There are many options for sunblock but I suggest SPF 35 or more. My wife and I use the Neutrogena SPF 70 sunscreen stick on my sons face and head, and the spray on his body. Amazon has some of the best prices for the Neutrogena sunscreen products as of this writing June 8th, 2020.
Finally, cover their head…and yours too. If you are a good-looking bald dad like me, I am sure you are aware of the importance of protecting your head. If you don’t share in the fortune of having a perfectly shaped melon and must cover your head with hair, let me school you on why you should protect all heads from the sun.
Scalps are often forgotten with regard to sun protection, but are vulnerable because they are often pointing directly at the sun. Sure, if you have hair it will offer you some protection but hairlines have parts or some may be thinning and that is where you are most vulnerable. There is an easy fix, where a hat.
If you are not comfortable in hats, than some hair products offer sun protection, or you could always just rub sunblock in your scalp. Remember your head contains your brain, so protect it by using it.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
The summer is my favorite season, and I love nothing more than to be outside all day with my son. Many families are more active in the summer, which means we are losing a lot of water by sweating.
In hot arid climates you may not notice the sweat due to evaporation, but you may notice the symptoms of a heat illness in yourself or child. I experienced this while on vacation in Las Vegas, NV. I started to get light-headed and weak.
One way to combat heat illness is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, and pay attention to yourself and loved ones. If any of you are overheating, acting strangely, or getting lightheaded, they may be suffering from a heat illness, which could quickly turn in to a heat emergency. Act quickly to hydrate and cool down. Heat emergencies are real and can be fatal.
As alluded to earlier, one way to fight off heat illness is to drink plenty of fluids. An electrolyte replacement such as Gatorade or Pedialyte may be needed due to the electrolytes lost during excessive sweating. Plan ahead by bringing plenty of fluids for an outing, pay attention to each other, and be smart about staying safe.
Pool and Water Safety
One of the best ways to cool off in the summer is to head to the pool or beach. Being around the water can come with its own set of dangers, which is why we as dad’s must be diligent. Pools can be deep and pool decks can be slippery. A slip into a pool can be an instant problem. Please make sure your kids know not to run around pools, and to be aware of their surroundings and abilities.
At the beach, the biggest danger is the unpredictability of the water (current, surf, waves). Second to the water is the wildlife we can encounter while at the beach. Please educate your kids and self about the natural environments you are visiting. Know your abilities and how to manage if you get into trouble.
Rip currents are a common danger that cause a lot of issues for “swimmers” at the beach. If swimmers remain calm and swim (or float) parallel to the beach they will eventually be out of the rip current and can safely swim into the beach.
Another beach tip, at different times of the year creatures such as stingrays move in close to the shore where bathers may be. This close encounter sometimes results in injuries to waders because rays are stepped on and defend themselves by stabbing the unsuspecting wader with their tail barb…OUCH!
No matter where you swim, be aware of the dangers before you go.
As a former lifeguard, I can tell you the most important part of their job is prevention. Prevent the need to perform life saving measures by anticipating emergencies before they happen. Be the lifeguard for your kids and anticipate danger before it happens.
Camping in the summer is tons of fun for kids and families. It is a great way to get closer to nature and spend quality time together. Regardless if you are roughing it or glamping, there always seems to be some kind of campfire or even a barbecue. The point is there is fire, and we must make sure our children know about its dangers. Fire is great, when respected and used responsibly.
So please, teach your kids about fire. Whether you are sitting around, making smores, or BBQing please be careful.
Summer is a great time of year so please remember the tips mentioned above and it will be that much better.
Moninger, J., & Goldman, L. (n.d.). Sun Care 101: The Basics of Sun Safety for Kids. Retrieved from https://www.parents.com/kids/safety/outdoor/sun-care-basics/