It’s that time of year! Summertime means trips to the beach, zoo and park. To ensure your summer outings are a big hit, here are some tips to keep you and your young ones safe.

Stay Sun Safe

  • Avoid being in the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., and stay in a shaded area as much as possible when outside.
  • Dress your child in a hat, sunglasses and clothing made with a tight weave.
  • For children 6 months and older, use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 (SPF 30 and higher is even better) that offers both UVA and UVB protection.
  • For babies younger than 6 months, if adequate shade isn’t available, put sunscreen in small amounts on exposed surfaces of skin.
  • Always apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside ─ even on cloudy days ─ and reapply it every two hours. Even waterproof sunscreen loses its effectiveness after about 80 minutes of swimming.

Keep Kids Cool
As temperatures rise, heat exhaustion becomes a concern. Symptoms include fatigue, extreme thirst and muscle cramping. If your child doesn’t cool down and rehydrate himself, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke (signs are headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and lack of sweat), which is potentially fatal.

If you notice heat illnesses in your child, spray him with cold water from a bottle or hose, fan him and get him into the shade. Ice packs to the groin and underarms can speed up the cooling process even more. If you suspect heatstroke, call 911.

Use Caution When in Water
Sadly, drowning is among the leading causes of accidental death in children. The American Academy of Pediatrics says parents should not enroll children under age 4 in formal swimming lessons that teach water survival skills. If you want them to play in water, supervise them within arm’s reach, even in shallow water.

Beware of Bee Stings
Bees are attracted to flowers, so don’t put fragrances or floral-patterned clothing on your child. Likewise, don’t leave out open containers of food and drink, and if your child’s clothes get stained with food, change them. Should a bee land on or next to your child, remain calm and gently blow it away.

If your child gets stung, brush the stinger away with the edge of a credit card. Next, apply a salve of one part meat tenderizer to four parts water and leave it on the area for about 30 minutes to neutralize the venom. Then apply cold compresses and topical hydrocortisone cream, and give an oral antihistamine to reduce swelling. You could also apply a paste of baking soda and water.

Bug Bites Be Gone
When outside, cover your child with lightweight clothing and use mosquito netting over strollers and infant seats. Ticks are also a concern, so check your child’s body for them at the end of each day spent outside.

When choosing bug repellents this summer, know that the most effective products contain DEET because it’s proven to repel both mosquitoes and ticks. Products with a DEET concentration of less than 30 percent are safe for kids, but not for babies less than two months old. Apply the repellent once a day and don’t use combination sunscreen/bug repellent products.

Steer Clear of Food Poisoning
If you’re outside at a picnic and can’t wash your hands (or your child’s hands), use an antibacterial hand gel. Clean all raw fruits and vegetables, and keep raw meats separate from cooked foods. Wash food-preparation surfaces and utensils well, and cook all food thoroughly. If you’re marinating food, make sure it’s in the refrigerator or a cooler.

The FDA recommends keeping cold food at a temperature of less than 40 F. Make sure to refrigerate all uneaten food, not just foods containing mayonnaise, after one hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90 F., or after two hours any other time.