Tuesday, May 08, 2001

Have a safe summer

It must be almost summer, because the weather hereabouts is getting hot, camp deadlines are approaching, both my kids IEPs have been planned for next year, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a set of summer safety tips.

We're going to print them here, in the interest of parent education and all that good stuff, but we also have to admit that safety tips like these assume a perfect world that we personally don't live in. A world where children stand still for sunscreen application. A world where adults have nothing to do but supervise their kids. A world where every decision made from dawn to dusk, is made with safety in mind, and not with, say, just GETTING THE KIDS TO SHUT UP.

So along with the AAP's suggestions, we're adding a few of our own. Stay cool, okay?


AAP says:
* Babies under 6 months of age should be kept out of the direct sunlight. Move your baby to the shade or under a tree, umbrella, or the stroller canopy.
* Dress babies in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs and use brimmed hats.
* Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside, and use sunscreen even on cloudy days. The sun protection factor (SPF) should be at least 15.
* Try to keep children out of the sun between 10 am and 4 pm - that's when the sun's rays are strongest.

MWA says:
Keep the kids out of that bad old sun altogether, locked in a dark room with the air-conditioner blasting, all the snack food they can eat and a 30-day supply of videos. They'll be fat and out of shape, but cancer-free.


AAP says:
* Never leave children alone in or near the pool, even for a moment.
* Make sure adults are trained in life-saving techniques and CPR so they can rescue a child if necessary.
* Surround your pool on all four sides with a sturdy five-foot fence.
* Make sure the gates self-close and self-latch at a height children can't reach.
* Keep rescue equipment (a shepherd's hook — a long pole with a hook on the end — and life preserver) and a portable telephone near the pool.
* Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as "floaties." They are not a substitute for approved life vests and can give children a false sense of security.
* Children are not developmentally ready for swim lessons until after their fourth birthday. Swim programs for children under 4 should not be seen as a way to decrease the risk of drowning.
* Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within arm's length, providing "touch supervision."

MWA says:
Pools are expensive, messy, hard to maintain, and dangerous to kids. Why bother, when they'll probably be just as happy running through the sprinklers? If they must have a body of water, let them play in the bathtub.


AAP says:
* Don't use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your child.
* Repellents appropriate for use on children should contain no more than 10 percent DEET because the chemical, which is absorbed through the skin, can cause harm. The concentration of DEET varies significantly from product to product, so read the label of any product you purchase.
* Avoid areas where insects nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and gardens where flowers are in bloom.
* Avoid dressing your child in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints.
* To remove a visible stinger from skin, gently scrape it off horizontally with a credit card or your fingernail. You can also remove a stinger by pinching it out with a pair of tweezers or your fingers.

MWA says:
Dressing your child in drab clothes, bearing only the scent of bug spray, does not sound like a recipe for a fun summer. Better to avoid those insect-intense areas by staying indoors, maybe in shopping malls or movie theaters or bowling alleys. Any place with air conditioning and no mosquitos.


AAP says:
* Carefully maintain all equipment.
* Swings should be made of soft materials such as rubber, plastic or canvas.
* Make sure children cannot reach any moving parts that might pinch or trap any body part.
* Make sure metal slides are cool to prevent childrens' legs from getting burned.
* Even in supervised training programs, the use of trampolines for children younger than 6 years of age should be prohibited.

MWA says:
No jumping on the bed, either.


* Buckle up car seats and seat belts.
* Keep supplies with you, such as snacks, water, a first aid kit and any medicines your child takes.
* Always use a car seat, starting with your baby's first ride home from the hospital. Help your child form a lifelong habit of buckling up.
* Read the manufacturer's instructions and always keep them with the car seat. Read your vehicle owner's manual for more information on how to install the car seat.
* Put your child in the back seat. It is the safest place in the car because it is farthest away from a head-on crash (the most common type of crash).
* The harness system holds your child in the car seat and the seat belts hold the seat in the car. Attach both snugly to protect your child.
* Children in rear-facing car seats should never be placed in a front seat equipped with an air bag.
* Children traveling alone to visit relatives or attend summer camp should have a copy of their medical information with them at all times.

MWA says:
Of course we know that there is no safe way to travel with kids. The very addition of kids makes the travel unsafe, if only because after hearing "Are we there yet?" 536 times adults may be rendered not responsible for their own actions. You want safe? Stay home, and have somebody from the American Academy of Pediatrics come over and watch your kids.

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