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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Great Summer Tips

Longer summer days means dramatically more time spent outside in the sun with our kids: from hanging out on the beach or at the pool, to running in the yard, to hiking through the woods. Amidst these summer activities, safety issues lurk from insects to sun burns to keeping hydrated. Mom Central, The Clorox Company and the MommyDocs have joined together to get the word out about these important summer safety tips:
  • Have a Sun Protection Strategy: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sunscreen with a minimum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15. Look for products that provide "broad spectrum" coverage to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Use this sunscreen routine with your child--daily application 30 minutes before going outside and reapplication every 2 hours (or sooner if swimming, toweling off, or sweating). Creating a routine will establish good habits for the future. In addition, don't forget a wide brim hat, sunglasses with 99-100% UVA/UVB protection, and sun protective clothing. If you have a very pale person in your family, like me and The Boy, SPF 15 isn't enough coverage. SPF45 does a much better job at protecting very fair complexions from sunburn and sun damage.

  • Keep Pests off Your Family: In the summer, many insects can bite or sting your child. For pesky mosquitoes and ticks, consider a DEET containing insect repellant. Apply sparingly to exposed skin (avoid backs of hands and around the eyes and mouth) and/or to clothing once a day. As the percentage of DEET goes up, the duration of action increases. To prevent unnecessary exposure, always use the lowest percentage that will last for the planned length of time spent outdoors. Never go above 30% or use on children under 2 months old. I've found that using DEET repellants on clothing alone works very well and is a bit safer than putting what is essentially a poison on a child. When you're playing on lawns or walking in woods, wearing shoes and socks covered with DEET, and pants tucked into the socks, also sprayed with DEET, will keep most ticks at bay.

  • Keep the Pool Cool and Clean: Small backyard wading pools provide a great way for kids to have fun and cool down when the temperature rises, but they can also harbor germs, such as bacteria. To keep the pool free from unwanted "swimmers," after each use disinfect it with bleach by cleaning with a solution of ¾ cup regular bleach to one gallon of water, then rinse well and dry thoroughly. Safety must: Always supervise children regardless of age when they are around any water; whether it's a bucket, a small backyard plastic pool, or the local community pool.

  • High Heat Means Hydrate: Excessive heat exposure may cause your child to experience a heat-related illness such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke. How to prevent this: take breaks in the shade, avoid playing outside during peak sun exposure hours, and drink, drink, drink! Make sure your child is taking in plenty of fluids before he become thirsty. If your child starts to dehydrate, remember to replace potassium and magnesium as well as liquids. A banana can help to prevent muscle cramps, especially when eaten with a big glass of water. If you're counting on fluids like Gatorade, take a look at the sugar and sodium content, as well as the dyes used. Do you want your child drinking that much sugar? While sodium (salt) is helpful in aiding your body to retain water, too much sodium isn't good for you either. Try to keep sodium levels down to 2000 grams/day, or if there is high blood pressure in your family, under 1200 grams.

  • Rid Rashes and Relieve Itchies: Running through the yard in bare feet, taking a nature walk on a trail, and picnicking in the park are some of the joys of warmer weather. But all of this outdoor activity can expose your child to a host of plants including those which cause poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac. If an allergic reaction occurs, ask the pediatrician about an oral antihistamine and/or a topical skin care product such as a steroid cream or calamine. If the rash is extensive, looks infected, or is not getting better, call your doctor right away. Benedryl can help with the initial itchyness. Make sure that your child isn't spreading the rash through scratching. Note: your family can be sitting at home all summer long and still get poison ivy! How? If you have a pet that roams outside and walks through a patch of poison ivy, they can and will pick up the oils from the leaves. Rubbing against your legs or sitting on your lap after contact with this noxious weed will spread the oils directly to your body, and voila! You've got the rash from hell. Trust me on this. I've experienced this first hand and it was not pretty.
Have a great summer!

For other recommendations and reviews, check my review blog. There's a lot of new stuff up there.
All these safety tips can also be found on MommyDocs.com.

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