Summertime Safety: Heat and Pool

Keeping Your Kids Happy and Healthy This Summer

Children sitting by the poolOld man winter has finally given us a break, and we are happily looking forward to the long, warm days that summer brings. Bicycle rides, pool days, and playground fun are some of the activities families enjoy this time of year. But along with these activities come the possibility of illness or injury. By following some general safety tips, you can keep your children happy and healthy this summer while keeping the doctor away.

Heat and Sun Safety

The heat and sun can pose dangerous health threats to children of all ages. Heat-related illnesses are more common in children who participate in strenuous physical activities. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to keep your children safe in hot weather.

  • Reschedule or reduce intensity of activities lasting 15 minutes or longer when heat or humidity reach critical levels
  • Make sure your child is well hydrated before beginning an activity. During the activity, remind your child to drink even if he does not feel thirsty. The AAP recommends 3-8 oz of fluid every 20 minutes for 9-12 year olds, and up to 1.0-1.5 L per hour for adolescent boys and girls
  • Allow an adequate rest and recovery period, 2 hours or more, between activities
  • Allow gradual exposure (10-14 days) to increase exercise duration and intensity
  • Avoid, or limit, participation in activities for any child who is currently ill or recovering from an illness
  • Recognize signs and symptoms of heat-related illness: pallor, bright red flushing, dizziness, headache, excessive fatigue, vomiting, feeling cold or extremely hot, core temperature greater than or equal to 104° F, or negative changes in personality
  • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 (minimum) and UVA/UVB protection
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors; reapply every 2 hours
  • Stay in the shade and limit sun exposure during peak hours
  • For babies under 6 months, the AAP recommends avoiding sun exposure altogether

Pool and Water Safety

Because drowning is a leading cause of death in children, water safety is of utmost importance. By following some general safety rules, you can help prevent your children from water-related injuries.

  • Always provide close supervision of children around water, including bathtubs and buckets of water, and have an adult swimmer be within reach
  • Install a pool fence around a private pool, at least 4 feet high
  • The AAP supports swimming lessons for all children 4-years-old and older
  • Use personal floatation devices (PFDs) instead of air-filled swimming gear
  • Learn CPR and keep rescue equipment poolside
  • Know the depth of water and any underwater hazards before allowing a child to jump or dive
  • Choose areas with lifeguards present
  • Never leave a child alone, or in the supervision of another child, in or near water

Playground and Bicycle Safety

We’ve all taken our children to playgrounds and let them ride bicycles. We’ve probably also held our breath watching them fall off a swing, trip over a ladder, or tip their bicycles over on the sidewalk. Remember these tips the next time you send your kids out to play.

  • Ensure the playground has safety tested mats or loose fill materials 9” deep
  • Ensure the equipment is carefully maintained
  • Swing seats should be made of soft material
  • Ensure children cannot reach any moving parts
  • Ensure metal slides are cool to prevent burns
  • Avoid home trampolines
  • Do not push your child to ride a two-wheeled bike until they are ready (usually 5 or 6-years-old)
  • Always have your child wear a helmet and be sure to buy the right size bike

Now it’s time to go out and enjoy the outdoors!

– Ginger Sayers, MPAS, PA-C (UPMC Children's Community Pediatrics – Moon and UPMC Children's Community Pediatrics – Wexford)