Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Following some simple rules can help summer fun stay safe

Wet spring days will soon be behind us and summer is fast approaching. With longer and warmer days, all of us are eager to get out and enjoy the outdoors. With all our enthusiasm, a certain amount of caution and awareness will go long way in helping us enjoy what we do and prevent some unnecessary problems associated with being outdoors.

Fun in the sun
Following a few general rules will help prevent some of the nasty sunburns I have seen in my office:

Avoid exposure to sun and dress infants younger than six months with long pants and long sleeve shirts, cotton of course.

Keep infants in shade whenever possible and avoid using sunscreen. For infants older than 6 months and young children, use of sunscreen with a minimum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15.

Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out if possible. Perhaps apply sunscreen before you start your trip to the beach rather than apply just before getting in the water. Remember to apply every two hours, especially after swimming.

Be sure to apply enough sunscreen -- about 1 ounce for a young adult.

Stay in the shade whenever possible, and limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours -- between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and do not forget sun glasses.

Keep the bugs out
Here are some tips to avoid them:

Avoid areas where insects nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and gardens where flowers are in full bloom.

Avoid using scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your child or yourself.

Don't where bright colors, which can attract insects.

Don't use a combination sunscreen/insect repellent products, because sun screen needs to be reapplied every two hours, and bug spray should not be reapplied. Choose sprays containing DEET, as it is one of the most effective insect repellent against mosquitoes and ticks. Please note DEET should not be used on children younger than 2 months of age.

Keep cool in hot sun
Avoid prolonged strenuous activity on hot days.

Make sure children are well-hydrated before starting any physical activity and enforce frequent breaks, for example, every 20 minutes.

Preferably drink cold tap water rather than a sports drink.

Avoid games or practice on really hot days.

Wear light-colored and light-weight clothing and change sweat drenched clothes for dry ones.
Have a happy -- and safe -- summer.
Ravi Prakash, MD, is Chief of Pediatrics at The William Backus Hospital with a private pediatric office in Norwich. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. E-mail Dr. Prakash and all of the Healthy Living columnists at healthyliving@wwbh.org

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