UGA Cooperative Extension Agent
Summer time is here! It's that time of year when the children want to play outside and in the water. Unfortunately, this is also a time of year when there are some special safety risks for children. Here are a few precautions to keep your child safe in the summer sun and around the pool.
Too much sun is harmful for anyone, but too much sun is especially harmful for a baby. Infants under 6 months cannot handle direct sunlight, so keep them out of direct sunlight. To avoid the risk of skin irritations, sunscreen should not be used until a baby is at least six months old. When putting sunscreen on a baby 6 months or older, apply a small amount to the skin to test it. If the skin is not irritated, apply the sunscreen to the rest of the body.
Whenever your child is in the sun, sunscreen is essential. Choose a sunscreen with at least SPF 15. If the child has fair skin, use a higher SPF. Remember to put the sunscreen on your child about 30 minutes before your child goes in the sun. Reapply your child's sunscreen about every 2 hours.
Take extra precautions when the sun is the warmest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Put a hat on your child, reapply sunscreen every hour, and have your child play in the shade. If your child is fair-skinned or especially susceptible to burns, a light-colored long-sleeved shirt can protect his arms from burns.
If your child does get a sunburn, keep him out of direct sunlight until the burn is completely healed. You can use aloe and moisturizing lotion to cool the burning. Put your child in loose-fitting, light clothing to keep him comfortable.
The most basic rule of pool safety is never to leave your child unsupervised at the pool, even for just a minute. In the time it takes to answer a phone call, a young child could easily drown. Even if your child knows how to swim, she can get into distress unexpectedly. Children should only swi###àm under close adult supervision.
Flotation devices such as lifejackets can help keep your child safer in the water. Keep flotation devices, such as approved floating life rings or pool buoys, near the pool at all times. But do not allow flotation devices to make your child overconfident. Never let a child who cannot swim rely on “floaties” to swim in water over her head. Supervision is crucial.
Pool areas should always be fenced. Putting a fence around a pool makes it more difficult for children to enter the pool without adult supervision. Pool fences should be at least five feet tall and have an automatic latching gate. Gates should always be locked when the pool is not in use.
Remembering these few simple guidelines can keep children healthy and even save a life. Talk to your child about sun safety and pool safety so he is aware of the dangers. When you and your child remember sun and pool safety tips, your family will have a “safety” blast this summer!
Safety information can also be found through Safe Kids Savannah at (912) 353-3148 or www.safekidssavannah.org. There are many articles on safety that can be located on their website.