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The Informed Parent

A Safe Summer Goodie Bag

by Lori A. Livingston, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Aug. 13, 2007

Summer is a much anticipated season for kids and adults alike. Most of us love to get out of the house, have fun in the sun and water, and perhaps fit a vacation into our busy lives. Certainly “fun” is the first thing to bring along on a great summer day. Here are a few other things to throw in the bag to ensure a safe and healthy summer:

1. SUNSCREEN (SPF 15 or higher):

A brimmed hat, sunglasses, and covering up with light cotton clothing to prevent sunburn are ideal, but not always possible. Infants under six months should avoid as much sun exposure as possible, but sunscreen is definitely OK. Older children need application 30 minutes before going outside, even when it is cloudy. Repeat every two hours, and also after swimming and sweating, even if it is waterproof.

2.  WATER:

High heat and humidity more easily affect children, potentially causing heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Both are very serious conditions, but avoidable. Reduce the intensity of activities or sports outside and drink 6-8 ounces of water at least every 20 minutes, even if the child is not thirsty.


Use a product with a maximum of 30% DEET and apply only to exposed skin and over clothing. Only apply once or twice in a day. Do not use on children under two months of age, under clothing or on broken skin. Do not spray on the face. Apply to hands first, then lightly to face. Do not use a combination product with sunscreen since you will want to apply sun block more frequently. Inspect your child’s body for ticks daily, including the neck and scalp, especially if you are in wooded areas or grasslands.

4.   HELMET:

It is not just for bike rides anymore…skateboarding, scooters, skates and Heelies (shoes with heel wheels) have all caused significant head injuries in children. Should be worn for all rides, no matter how short or close to home. Unfortunately accidents happen in driveways, too. Kids are usually ready to try a 2-wheel bike at about 5-or 6-years old.


Bandages, moleskin for blisters, gauze to cover wounds, water-resistant tape, antibiotic ointment, cortisone cream, children’s Tylenol or ibuprofen, and prescription medications such as albuterol for asthma will take care of minor problems until you can get more help.


Adult supervision at ALL times, especially at the pool, beach, water park, bathtub, etc. is just one way to prevent drowning and other accidents. Children are never truly “water safe” even after swim lessons, especially if they are under four years of age. “Touch supervision”, or being within arm’s length, is best for infants and toddlers.

HAVE FUN!! For more details on safety and travel tips, visit

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