Sunscreen and Swimming
Sun Safety (from American Academy of Pediatrics, www.aap.org 3/11)
Sun Safety for Babies
- Babies under 6 months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight.
- It is okay to apply a small amount of sunscreen on infants under 6 months if there is no way to avoid the sun.
- Be careful about surfaces such as sand, water, and concrete around a pool, which can all reflect sun rays onto the face of a shaded infant.
- Dress babies in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs, and use brimmed hats.
Sun Safety for Kids
- Choose sunscreen that is made for children, preferably waterproof.
- Consider testing the sunscreen on your child’s back for an allergic reaction. If a rash develops, talk with your pediatrician.
- Select clothes made of tightly woven fabrics. Cotton clothing is both cool and protective.
- Sunglasses with UV protection are also a good idea for protecting your child’s eyes.
- If your child gets sunburn that results in blistering, pain or fever, contact your pediatrician.
Sun Safety for the Family
- Sunscreens should be used for sun protection and not as a reason to stay in the sun longer.
- Put on sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors – it needs time to work on the skin.
- Reapply a water-resistant or waterproof sunscreen (at least sun protection factor SPF 15) every two hours.
- The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try to keep out of the sun during those hours.
- The sun’s damaging UV rays can bounce off water, sand, snow or concrete; so be particularly careful of these areas.
- Most of the sun’s rays can come through the clouds on an overcast day; so use sun protection even on cloudy days.
- When choosing a sunscreen, look for the words “broad-spectrum” on the label – it means that the sunscreen will screen out both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays.
- Zinc oxide, a very effective sunblock, can be used as extra protection on the nose, cheeks, tops of the ears and on the shoulders.
- Rub sunscreen in well, making sure to cover all exposed areas, especially the face, nose, ears, feet and hands, and even the backs of the knees.
Drowning Prevention (from American Academy of Pediatrics News Room, May 24, 2010)
- Drowning continues to be the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 19.
- Toddlers and teenaged boys are at greatest risk.
- Three essential layers of protection against drowning: swim skills, adult supervision, enclosures around pools.
- Learning to swim is important “but even advanced swimming skills cannot ‘drown-proof’ a child of any age.”
- Most children 4 years old and up should learn to swim.
- Swim lessons for children ages 1-3 are not formally recommended but parents should consider them “based on the child’s frequency of exposure to water, emotional development, physical abilities, and certain health concerns related to pool water infections and pool chemicals.”
- Whether AROUND OR IN the bathtub, a portable kiddie pool, an above-ground or in-ground swimming pool, a lake, the ocean, or the beloved rivah, children should ALWAYS be supervised by an adult.
- We encourage every parent to learn and know how to perform CPR.
- Pools should be surrounded by a fence on all sides; this is safest and the law. Fences should be at least 4 feet tall, hard to climb (i.e. not chain length), and include a self-closing/self-latching gate that can be locked.
- Above-ground pools are considered ‘portable’ and there is a loophole in the law exempting them from the fencing requirement. Be aware of this if a friend or family member you visit has an above-ground pool.
- The soft sides of above ground pools make it easier for children to lean over and fall head first into the water.
- All children should wear a life jacket when riding in a boat. Small children and nonswimmers should also wear one at water’s edge, such as on a river bank or pier.
- Do not use air-filled swimming aids (such as inflatable arm bands) in place of life jackets. They can deflate and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
- Parents should know the depth of the water and any underwater hazards before allowing children to jump in. The first time you enter the water, jump feet first; don’t dive.
- When choosing an open body of water for children to swim in, select a site with lifeguards. Swimmers should know what to do in case of rip currents (swim parallel to the shore until out of the current, then swim back to the shore).
- Counsel teenagers about the increased risk of drowning when alcohol is involved.