DANVILLE Sun and swimming are things that make summer fun, but they are also the cause of countless childhood emergency room visits. According to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the leading cause of death in toddlers, other than birth defects.
And this year, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended sun screen companies manufacture a product that protects against dangerous ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays.
"Summer is a lot of fun for young children, however it is extremely important that parents and guardians are mindful to keep them safe by following precautions," said Frank Maffei, M.D., medical director, pediatric intensive care unit at Geisinger's Janet Weis Children's Hospital. "We see an increase in patients with injuries over the summer months and that can be avoided by maintaining personal safety standards, such as simply supervising the child while playing and frequently applying sunscreen."
According to the CDC, 10 people, two of whom are children age 14 and under, die from drowning every day in the United States. Learning survival swimming skills, which include the ability to float, tread water and right oneself if he or she falls into a pool or body of water as well as formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning. Close supervision of children around all bodies of water and the proper use of personal flotation devices can prevent the majority of accidental drownings.
It is also important to avoid sunburn, which increases the risk of skin cancer. In addition to recommendations on increased protection, new regulations from the FDA will outlaw labels of sweatproof or waterproof on sun screen bottles. Currently, the FDA suggests applying an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapplying often throughout the day.
The warm weather also brings with it an increased amount of bike, scooter and skateboard traffic, and with children prone to falls and accidents, safety equipment is very important. Kids should wear a helmet on every ride one that is certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). A child should also have a bike that fits him or her properly and is comfortable to ride.
"It's also imperative that children remain hydrated while playing outdoors," said Dr. Maffei. "Children participating in athletics should be especially mindful of maintaining hydration. Coaches supervising these children should schedule frequent (every 15 minutes) rest and fluid breaks during hot days. Water and sports drinks with electrolytes will keep kids hydrated so they can keep playing outdoors while avoiding heat-related illness. And, wearing light colored clothing will also avoid attracting the sun and keep them cool."
Children will get the most out of summer fun when parents, guardians and supervising adults are aware of potential risks says Dr. Maffei.