If you’re headed to the beach or pool with children this summer, Dr. Rhonda Patt, a pediatrician at Atrium Health Levine Children's Charlotte Pediatrics, offers health and safety recommendations to help the whole family enjoy fun in the sun.
Start by filling your beach bag with these essentials recommended by Dr. Patt:
Patt emphasizes that flotation devices don't replace adult supervision but add an extra layer of protection for youngsters.
Sunscreen is a must for every family member anytime you go outside, especially for beach and pool days. Patt recommends applying broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 30 before going to the beach or pool. Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming, sweating or toweling off.
One sunscreen caveat: Babies under 6 months shouldn't wear sunscreen, as they are more susceptible to side effects, like rashes.
"Instead, protect your baby's skin with a hat and sun-protective clothing and keep them in the shade," she says. "It's also important to try to avoid the beach during the hottest part of the day: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m."
If sun exposure is unavoidable, Patt says you can apply a mineral-based formula with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are generally less irritating. Be sure to wash off the sunscreen at the end of the day. Note: Always check with your pediatrician before applying sunscreen to a baby who's less than 6 months old.
"Water safety and drowning prevention are such important topics, and summer is a great reminder of this," says Patt. "Swimming lessons provide one level of protection against drowning, especially for young children."
In addition to signing them up for swimming lessons, teach your child these basic water safety rules:
"If a child cannot swim, they should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved floatation device when playing around the water," says Patt.
Even if your child knows how to swim, you should always designate an undistracted adult "water watcher" who can keep an eye on everyone at all times. Flotation devices are never a replacement for swim lessons and adult supervision.
"I also recommend that all parents and caregivers learn CPR," she says.
"Children and infants can become overheated in the summer," says Patt. "Parents should especially be aware of this with infants because they are often dressed in extra sun protective clothing and are not in the water."
Here are some ways to keep babies and kids safe in high temperatures:
Call your pediatrician if you notice any of the following symptoms in a child or infant after spending time outdoors in the heat:
With these safety tips in mind, you and your family can enjoy plenty of fun in the sun this summer.
Does your child need a pediatrician? Find one near you.What to Pack: Beach and Pool Essentials for Kids Sun Safety Tips for the Whole Family One sunscreen caveat: Swimming Safety for Kids Preventing Dehydration and Heat Illness in Children