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How to Keep Your Child Safe and Injury-Free

Helgemo & Liou Pediatrics

The final school bell of the year is about to ring. Kids everywhere are rejoicing. Summer means more time to take advantage of Florida sun and recreation. Fun in the sun can easily turn dangerous, however, if parents fail to take the proper precautions.

The extreme Florida heat, the easy access to water and other potential dangers can put kids at risk. With some simple precautions, however, parents can help ensure this is a summer to remember – for all the right reasons.

Read more Below for the five common summer safety hazards and some precautions I recommend that parents take to keep the season safe and enjoyable:

1. Sunburn.

To avoid sunburn, infants should be dressed in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts and brimmed hats when in the sun for prolonged periods of time. Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher can be applied to exposed areas.

For children of all ages, it is best to limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the hottest. Always use a sunscreen with at least a 15 SPF and make sure they reapply every two hours — more often if they are sweating or swimming.

Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays and a hat with a three-inch brim also offer good protection. Clothing should be lightweight but cover as much skin as possible, although this is not always practical depending upon the activity.

2. Water.

A child can drown in mere seconds. One of the best ways to prevent drowning is to actively supervise children around water at all times. Make sure your pool is enclosed by a four-sided fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate. It’s important to teach your children from a very early age to stay away from the water unless an adult is present.

Enroll your child in swimming lessons after about age four. However, even if children can swim, they require vigilant supervision at all times.

3. Hot Car.

According to, an average of 38 children die in hot cars each year from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside motor vehicles. The inside of a car can get dangerously hot in a very short period of time. Never leave your child alone in a car for any period of time.

The “Look Before You Lock” campaign, initiated by, encourages parents to get in the habit of always opening the back door of their vehicle every time they reach their destination to make sure no child has been left behind.

4. Bicycles.

Children should always wear a helmet when riding a bike. Helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by 88 percent, according to

Parents should teach kids to always ride on the right side of the road – with traffic – and to stay as far to the right as possible. Kids should know appropriate hand signals and to respect traffic signals and stop signs.

If riding in the evening, make sure bikes have reflectors. Kids should avoid wearing dark clothing. White or light clothing allows them to be more visible. Never allow a child to bike ride alone until you are comfortable that they are capable of doing so.

5. Bug Bites.

Florida is a breeding ground for insects. Mosquito bites, especially, can make kids miserable. One way to keep kids from attracting pesky insects is to have your child avoid using scented soaps, perfumes or hairsprays before going outdoors.

When playing in the woods or during times when insects are especially prevalent, it’s a good idea to wear long sleeves and pants.

Bug spray, of course, is a good idea, too. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the use of DEET products with a concentration of 5-10% on children older than 2 months. Repellents with DEET should not be used on children under 2 months old.

Parents should rub the repellent on their own hands, then onto the child’s skin. Always avoid the child’s hands, eyes, mouth and open wounds.

We’re fortunate to live in Florida. By taking these simple – but vital – precautions, parents can help ensure their children enjoy all it has to offer – safely.