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Keep Your Summer Fun | Infirmary Pediatrics

  • Category: Education
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Amanda Akey

Keep your family's summer fun with these safety tips from James B. Harrell, M.D., pediatrician, at Infirmary Pediatrics in Mobile, Alabama.


Sun exposure injuries are extremely common in the Gulf Coast region. They can range in intensity from mild reddening of the skin to blistering second-degree burns, and at its worst, polymorphous light eruption, also known as “sun poisoning.” Here are best practices for the entire family:

  • If you will be outside for an hour or more, apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen.
  • Use a 30 SPF or higher sunscreen that protects against both A and B ultraviolet radiation.
  • Apply one to two ounces overall sun-exposed skin 15-30 minutes prior to the outdoor activity.
  • Wear wide-brimmed hats, rash guards, and other protective clothing depending on the activity.
  • Protect your eyes with UV-rated sunglasses.
  • Avoid sun exposure during peak sun brightness.
  • Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours while outdoors.

If you or your child do experience a sunburn, treat mild burns by cooling the skin with cool, wet compresses, pain medication, and cleaning with soap and water. However, if severe blistering occurs, consult your physician.

Insect bites

We see a lot of pesky critters in the spring and summer months such as mosquitos, ants, bees, and ticks. They can cause skin injuries and be uncomfortable for your child to handle. One of the best things you can do is find an appropriate insect repellant. But there are many options on the market and finding one can be a daunting task. Studies show that products containing 10-30% DEET or Picaridin are equally effective and have minimal side effects. Products with BioUD, PMD (oil of lemon eucalyptus) are also effective. Products containing IR3535, natural oils, or citronella don’t appear to be as effective. Repellant bracelets and electronic devices that produce high-pitched sounds are ineffective.

If you or your child do get an insect bite, first clean the bites with soap and warm water. Take special care to remove stingers from the skin to avoid further infection. Then apply an antibiotic ointment if the bite has an open wound. Keep a topical or oral antihistamine or topical steroid cream on hand in case you or your child do end up with an insect bite. These products can reduce the annoying itching sensation that can be so bothersome for young children and adults. Agitating the skin by scratching can lead to infection.

Heat-related Injuries

Another hazard when playing or working outdoors in the summer months is the risk of becoming overheated in our humid climate. High heat indexes increase your and your child’s risk for dehydration, muscle cramps, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. When planning on extended time outside for your family or child, provide adequate water, take frequent activity breaks and search out shaded rest areas. If your child is on a sports field, keep an eye out for heat-related injury symptoms such as rapid heart rate, hyperventilation, light-headedness and fainting, headache, nausea/vomiting, confusion, sweating profusely, or not sweating. These symptoms can be treated quickly with hydration, rest, and cooling. If the individual does not respond to those methods, seek medical attention at urgent care or emergency department.

Water Injuries

We all love to splish-splash in the summertime in the pool, lake, or Gulf. No child should ever swim alone. It’s important to observe your child when swimming, boating, or jet skiing. If you have a pool at home, consider safety measures such as keeping floatation devices near the pool as well as having an isolating four-sided fence with locking gates to prevent accidents. When out on any watercraft, make sure that all individuals have life jackets appropriate for their size. We encourage all pool and boat owners to become CPR certified so that in case of an accident, life-saving measures can be administered immediately. If the beach is more your speed, keep a close eye on the flag warnings of the day. One of the most important safety precautions you can take for your child is to enroll them in swimming lessons. Survival swim lessons are also available for your infant, ages six months and older.

Riding injuries

Children and adolescents love to go fast. Kids who are skateboarding or bike riding should always wear helmets and appropriate protective gear such as need and elbow pads. For motorized activity vehicles, such as ATVs and Go-Carts, drivers and passengers should teach how to drive safely as well as be required to wear protective safety gear. In addition, these recreational vehicles should not be ridden on paved streets or the shoulder of the road. Keep the rides on designated trails and at safe speeds.

Infirmary Pediatrics wants you to have a safe and healthy summer! Schedule a check-up today by calling (251) 435-KIDS (5437).