Monday, July 16, 2007

Sherri's Helpful Hints

Outdoor Safety for your Children


Keep a baby under a year old out of the hot summer sun altogether, if you can. Dress him or her in lightweight, light-colored clothing and, always, a hat. If you're pushing your baby in a stroller, check often to be sure sun isn't shining directly on his or her face.

Don't use a sunscreen with an SPF of 4 or more on a baby under 6 months old. Tender skin may absorb the chemical involved and be unable to eliminate it.

Do use a sunscreen with a higher SPF on a child, but be aware that anything over 15 may simply be overkill. You may find the ones that come in stick form convenient to use. If in a spray container, spray it on your hands and then apply it to children's exposed skin. Avoid putting it on children's hands as they often end up in the mouth.

Use zinc oxide if you wish. It offers complete protection for delicate areas such as nose, cheeks and shoulders. And kids love it! It even comes in bright colors today.

Use protection on overcast days too. As much as 80 percent of the sun's radiation reaches the ground, even through clouds.

Be aware that while a T-shirt will afford some protection (usually SPF 5) for back and shoulders when dry, once wet, it will only intensify the sun's rays.

Watch your child for signs of heatstroke, if you're out for a long time in hot weather. Most common symptoms are irritability, drowsiness and headache. Get the child into the shade immediately and give cool liquids - water or fruit juice, but nothing with caffeine, because it can lead to dehydration.

Plants in the Wild

Stress the importance of never tasting anything growing in the woods, not leaves, not twigs, not berries, not mushrooms.

Learn what poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac look like and show your child samples or pictures of all three. Teach the old adage, "Leaflets three, let it be", regarding poison ivy and oak and show our child the familiar sumac shrub or tree, especially recognizable in late summer and fall because of its red leaves. Explain that just touching these plants can make the skin itch and the mouth burn.

Should your child develop a rash after contact with a poisonous plant, wash the area with soap and water, apply ice or a cool, wet towel and use calamine or a similar lotion to stop the itch.

Bites and Stings

Watch your child for signs of allergic reactions, especially to bee stings. These may include severe itching, nausea, and, more rarely, breathing difficulties and swelling of the throat and tongue. Cover the sting area with a cold, wet cloth to relieve pain, and get your child to an emergency room as quickly as possible. If you know your child is allergic to the stings of bees or other insects, get a medical ID tag for him or her and carry a sting kit.

Choose any commercial insect repellent you use carefully and follow instructions. Avoid the ingredient DEET (diethyltoluamide) or at least avoid repellents with more than 15% DEET because it sometimes causes toxic reactions in children when it is absorbed through the skin. Consider applying such a repellent to your child's clothing. Should your child have a reaction to a repellent, wash the skin with soap and water and call your poison control center or your doctor. Save the container so you'll know the ingredients.

Protect your child with light-colored clothing,long sleeves, long pants and a hat, when he or she will be exposed to mosquitoes or other stinging insects. Discourage the use of perfumes or sweet-smelling lotions by all who will be in your party, and be aware that human beings who are consuming apple juice and other such sweet foods are attractive to insects.

Ease the itch and pain of bites by applying plain white vinegar, alcohol, calamine or another appropriate lotion or cream. Or rub bites with a bar of wet soap or a bit of the liquid from an aloe plant leaf. Amazingly, a paste of meat tenderizer seems to work on some children as does a paste of baking soda.

From "A Parent's Guide to Child Safety"

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