Summer on the Western Slope is hot! Many people elect to remain indoors in the heat of the day, but it is hard to corral children to the living room when they want to be running free outside. Heat affects children in different ways, but there are some things you can do to keep your children safe during the summer months.
- Protect your children against heat stroke and exhaustion
Never forget the dangers of heat. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very real dangers to children, and we must guard them by ensuring they always have a way to escape hot temperatures. Allow children to come indoors when it is hot and sunny, or make sure they have a shaded place where they can escape when needed.
Keep children very well hydrated with water and provide them with electrolyte solutions like Gatorade or Pedialyte if they have been sweating profusely or exercising vigorously.
Don’t leave children unattended in parked cars, even for a short time. You may think that leaving the car running and the air conditioner blowing will make the vehicle a safe place, but you cannot guarantee that a malfunction won’t cause the air conditioner or car to stop functioning. This puts your children in grave danger as temperatures in cars can reach upwards of 40 degrees or higher than the outside temperature within minutes. Tragically, many infant deaths occur each summer from children being left unintentionally in the back seat when their parent goes to work and forgets to drop them at daycare. Don’t take that chance. Put your shoe in the back seat next to your infant – when you get out of your car to go to work, you will certainly remember both your shoe and your infant.
- Wear sunscreen and protect against UV rays
We are closer to the sun here on the western slopes and thus the sun’s rays are more intense and can burn very quickly. Don’t be afraid to use sunscreen generously on your children’s skin. Though freckles and summer tans have always been thought to be signs of health and vitality, the reality is that these are indications of damage to the DNA of your child’s skin. Just one blistering sunburn in childhood can more than double the risk of melanoma as that child grows older.
Keep your child’s skin healthy; use broad-spectrum (protecting against both UVA and UVB rays) SPF 30 or more sunscreen heavily on exposed skin and use light-colored cotton clothing to cover other skin as necessary. Reapply sunscreen frequently if your child is swimming or sweating. Make sure your child wears a hat that covers his or her face and ears when outside. And if possible, avoid the most intense rays of the day, usually between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. You may want to plan to have indoor activities available with which to entertain your children during those intense sun hours.
- Protect your children against insects and ticks
There are different types of repellents and pros and cons to each of them. In short, if you use a DEET-containing repellant on your child’s skin, make sure it is not at a concentration of more than 30 percent. Wash it off as soon as it is not needed, and do not use it on children less than two months old.
Refer to a great article on how to choose insect repellents for your child at healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Insect-Repellents.aspx for more information.
Summer is one of the best seasons to enjoy the Western Slope of Colorado. Remember these helpful tips and keep your children safe while you explore the great outdoors.
The Delta Health Pediatrics clinic is located at 296 Stafford Lane, Suite B in Delta and is currently enrolling new patients. Call us today at 970.546.4000 or visit us online at deltahealthco.org/delta-health-pediatrics/.
Dr. Amanda Lovette is a Pediatrician at the Delta Health Pediatrics clinic located in Delta, Colorado. Lovette specializes in the general healthcare needs of infants, children and adolescents.