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Start this summer safely

  • Published
  • By Capt. (Dr.) Meredith Schuldt, pediatrician
  • 6th Medical Operations Squadron

As the warmer weather approaches, it is an ideal time for kids to be outside. Whether you're hitting the playground, visiting the beach, or hiking, the MacDill pediatrics team would like to share some important safety precautions to ensure that your family time doesn’t end up in the hospital.


Playgrounds are a great way for children to get exercise, but children should be watched closely to make sure running and climbing doesn’t end in injury. Additionally, playground injuries can also occur from falling off of the equipment.  To avoid this, visit playgrounds built on a soft surface like rubber, bark chips or sand. As a reminder, playground equipment heats up quickly in the sun. Metal slides, steel jungle gyms or even plastic surfaces can become hot enough to burn, especially toddlers and young children, who have thinner skin than adults.


Speaking of burns, sunburns are one of the most common outdoor injuries in Florida, but can be easily avoided. Protect your child’s delicate skin. All children over the age of 6 months should wear sunscreen when they’re outdoors. SPF 30 will provide adequate protection and should be reapplied frequently if the kids are outdoors for an extended period of time. For babies under 6 months, avoid sun exposure by keeping your baby out of direct and indirect sunlight or keep their skin covered. This can be done by using clothing and hats as well as sticking to the shaded areas while limiting outdoor time. Hats and sunglasses are helpful in avoiding sun damage to both skin and eyes at any age!


Trips to the beach or pool are great ways to cool down, but also require a level of vigilance to prevent drowning and other water injuries. Whether it’s swimming, fishing, tubing, or just floating with the current, always keep a close watch on children. If swimming, choose a designated swim area where the boat can be anchored to shore. Make sure a lifeguard is present as an extra set of eyes for water safety. Enrolling your child in swimming or water classes during the summer is also a great idea, but remember, even excellent swimmers should not be left alone in the water. All children should wear a life jacket when riding in a boat. Small children and non-swimmers should also wear one at water’s edge, such as on a river bank or pier.


Mosquitoes, biting flies, and tick bites can be a miserable consequence of being outside. One way to protect your child from biting insects is to use insect repellents and protective clothing. However, it’s important that insect repellents are used safely and correctly. The most common repellents contain DEET. The amount of DEET in products varies, but products for children should contain no more than 30 percent DEET, which is safe to use on children as young as two months old. Read repellent labels and always be sure to follow all directions and precautions. Apply the repellent to clothing or exposed skin only. Once you return indoors, be sure your child washes with soap and water to remove the repellent and wash the sprayed clothing before wearing again.


Finally, beat the rush! Your child’s school or sports team may require a checkup in order to register in July and August for the 2018 school year or for team sports. Appointment times fill up fast, so schedule a back-to-school checkup today by logging on to Tricare online