Summer Safety in the Sun

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Summer is a child's favorite time of year. There is no school, and they can play outside all day. But did you know infants and children up to four years old are at the greatest risk for developing heat-related illnesses? With the influx of children playing outside during the summer, kids of all ages need to know about safety, especially if they're going to be in the sun for extended periods of time.

Summer Safety in the Sun Infographic 

Sun Safety

With 23 percent of sun exposure occurring before the age of 18, protecting your child's skin now will help keep them healthy in the future. The sun is at its peak during the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. If it is possible, a child should avoid or limit their sun exposure during these times. When a child is playing outside, he or she should wear protective clothing and sunglasses that have 100 percent UV protection.

Don't Let Overcast Cloud Your Judgment

There are many myths about sun safety, so don't let this one get the best of you. Even if it is cloudy outside, sunscreen is a must. As much as 80 percent of the UV rays from the sun are able to pass through the clouds. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 should be worn when a child goes outside. Even if your child doesn't burn easily, they should always be wearing sunscreen when they are outside.

Doctor Kimberley Frees

"Always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15-30. Apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going out in the sun. Enjoying the sun and outdoors is very important for children, but always remember sun safety and accident prevention!" advises Kimberly Frees, DNP, at UnityPoint Clinic.

If a child will be outside for longer than 30 minutes, he/she should reapply their sunscreen and continue reapplying every 30 minutes after.

What Should You Do if Your Child Gets Sunburned?

There are several different options if your child gets a sunburn. If the sunburn is mild, aloe vera gel or lotion can be used for pain relief. Other options include an over-the-counter pain reliever, drinking plenty of water and a cool compress. If the sunburn causes blisters, a high fever, or a skin infection has developed, seek medical treatment for your child immediately.

Quick Sun Safety Tips:

  • Always wear an SPF of at least 15.

  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection of 100.

  • Aloe vera or a cool compress can help with a mild sunburn.

  • Blisters, fever or a skin infection from a serious sunburn require medical attention.

Heat Safety

Short periods of time spent outdoors in high temperatures can cause heat-related illness. Infants and children are especially sensitive to high temperatures and are at the greatest risk for developing heat-related illnesses.

Heat stroke occurs when the body can no longer regulate its temperature. Warnings signs of heat stroke include:

  • extremely high body temperature

  • red, dry skin

  • headache

  • nausea

  • confusion

  • dizziness

If your child is displaying any of these symptoms after being outside, they require immediate medical attention.

To protect your child from heat-related illnesses, avoid giving them sugary beverages, like juice. Drinks that are high in sugar can actually result in more fluid loss than just drinking water. Additionally, your child should not wait until they are thirsty to drink water, but instead should drink two to four glasses of cold water each hour.

If your child will be outside for extended periods of time, they should take breaks and rest in cool, shaded areas. Another way to help your child cool off is to have him/her take a cool shower or bath when they have finished playing outside.

Quick Heat Safety Tips:

  • Drink two to four glasses of water per hour.

  • Don't drink sugary beverages.

  • Rest in shaded areas.

  • Take a cool shower or bath after playing outside.

Play Safety

Being Safe in the Water

Children not only need to be conscious about the sun and heat, but also if they're playing safely. If a child will be swimming or playing around water, an adult should always be supervising. The majority of fatal water accidents occur while there is a brief distraction from supervision. In fact, drowning is the cause of more deaths among children aged one to four in the United States than any other cause, except birth defects.

If your child is new to swimming or could improve their swimming skills, enroll them in swim classes. Swim classes will help a child improve their swimming abilities and learn when someone else is having trouble while swimming. If your family enjoys boating, adults and children alike should wear life jackets while in open bodies of water.

Safety While Playing Sports

Being safe while playing outside is very important. If a child is riding their bike, skateboarding or rollerblading, they should always wear a helmet to prevent injuries. Different activities require different types of helmets. For example, if your child is riding a bicycle, he or she should be wearing a bike helmet. If children are going to be riding a bicycle, they need to know and understand the rules of the road.

Quick Play Safety Tips:

  • Children should always be supervised while swimming.

  • Enroll your child in swim classes.

  • Always wear life jackets.

  • Wear the appropriate protective gear while playing sports.

Outdoor Safety

Bug Safety

Unfortunately, playing outside in the summertime usually means a bug bite or two. When your child is playing outside, they should avoid areas where bugs like to create their nests, like stagnant water, gardens, and uncovered food. To prevent insect bites and diseases carried by insects, use insect repellant that contains DEET. Children under the age of two months should not be sprayed with DEET. Children sprayed with DEET should bathe once returning indoors to wash off the bug spray. Wearing appropriate clothing, like long-sleeved shirts and pants, can also help prevent bug bites, especially when mosquitoes are out.

Another insect to be aware of is ticks. Ticks can carry dangerous diseases, so it's important to be aware of areas you can expect to find ticks, typically moist environments around wooded and grassy environments.

Food Safety

Is your family going on a picnic? Good chances are your picnic includes a cooler. To protect you and your family from food-borne illnesses, food safety is critical. Keep your coolers closed and limit the number of times it gets opened. By keeping the cooler shut, contents stay cooler longer. Food needs to be kept at the proper temperature to prevent the growth of bacteria. If your food is left outdoors for more than one hour and the temperature is above 90 degrees, food-borne illnesses can form. Food that is left out for more than one hour, especially in warm conditions, should be thrown away - better safe than sorry!

Quick Outdoor Safety Tips:

  • Use a bug repellant with DEET and wear protective clothing.

  • Avoid areas where insects build their nests.

  • Keep your cooler closed to keep your food cooler longer.

  • If you leave food out for than one hour, it should be discarded.

Make sure you know how to keep your child healthy this summer by talking with their pediatrician or family doctor. In case of emergency, call 9-1-1 or head straight to the emergency room. Not sure if it is a medical emergency? Learn more about when it is time to go to the Emergency Room or when to go to the clinic here.

Cedar Rapids
UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's offers three different Urgent Care clinics throughout the Cedar Rapids metro area. Urgent care can treat minor illnesses and injuries when you are unable to see your primary care physician. You can also check Urgent Care wait times online.  Another option is to connect to a provider through Virtual Care from the comfort of your own home. If the problem is more severe, the St. Luke's ER is open 24 hours a day. 
Des Moines
UnityPoint Health - Des Moines offers five Urgent Care clinics conveniently located throughout the Des Moines metro area offering weekend extended hours for when the unexpected happens. You can also connect to a provider through Virtual Care from the comfort of your own home. Emergency Services are available at Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Methodist West Hospital, Iowa Lutheran Hospital and Blank Children's Hospital. As of June 2016, Central Iowa's only Adult Level 1 Trauma Center and the first Pediatric Level 2 Trauma Center, the Emergency Departments and Trauma Centers at Iowa Methodist and Blank Children's, are prepared to handle all levels of illness and injury, 24 hours a day. If you are experiencing a life-threatening injury or illness, please call 911. 
Dubuque
The emergency room at UnityPoint Health - Finley Hospital is prepared for large and small emergencies you may face. With the Grandview expansion, the ER will have 16 treatment rooms including two advanced trauma rooms. The new ER will open on August 17, 2016 and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If your medical problem is minor, but still needs the attention of a medical professional, Finley Hospital offers Convenient Care from 4-10 p.m., but will soon be opening a UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care for enhanced hours and treatment options. You can also visit UnityPoint Clinic Cascade Family Medicine and Walk-In Care in Cascade and Peosta to treat minor illnesses and injuries. Another option is to connect to a provider through Virtual Care from the comfort of your own home.
Fort Dodge
Minor illnesses and injuries that need urgent care but are non-life threatening may be treated best at UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care on Kenyon Road. There, you can seek help for things like burns, colds, cuts, allergies, flu, fractures, infections and sprains. You can also connect to a provider through Virtual Care from the comfort of your own home. If the problem is more severe, UnityPoint Health - Trinity Regional Medical Center's ER is open 24/7.
Madison
The Emergency Services Department at UnityPoint Health - Meriter is always open for those seeking medical emergency treatment. When it's not an emergency situation, make sure to check in with your primary care provider. The After-Hours clinic is also available for children or adolescents by appointment on evenings (5:30 to 8:30 p.m.) and weekends (8:30 to 11:30 a.m.). Weekend care for all ages is also available on a walk-in basis from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Peoria
UnityPoint Health - Peoria has two Emergency Departments that offer patients quick access to care. One is located on the Methodist campus; the other is on the Proctor campus. If it's not an emergency, UnityPoint Clinic Express Care and Proctor First Care locations can offer you a full range of medical services, including walk-in care for minor emergencies, illnesses and injuries. There are no appointments required at these seven locations.
Quad Cities
For minor injuries, UnityPoint Clinic - Express care locations are the best option. UnityPoint Clinic has four of these clinics for your access, and they are open seven days a week. For emergencies, Trinity has emergency rooms at each of its four hospital campuses in Moline, Rock Island, Bettendorf and Muscatine. Remember, if it's an emergency call 911.
Sioux City
UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care, located at St. Luke's Sunnybrook Medical Plaza in Sioux City, is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Get immediate attention at Urgent Care for minor illnesses and injuries when you cannot get in to see your primary care provider. You can also connect to a provider through Virtual Care from the comfort of your own home. If the situation is more severe, visit the St. Luke's ER, which is open 24 hours a day. 
Waterloo
UnityPoint Health - Allen Hospital offers professional expertise in their emergency room. We offer 24 exam rooms and eight observation rooms for patients who need to be admitted into the hospital. Our emergency room is open 24 hours a day. In addition, there are two UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care Clinics in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area if you need medical attention for a minor injury or condition.
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