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by Dr. Bhumi Upadhyay, Northeast Pediatrics

Summer in Florida brings lots of opportunities and fun! Where else can you ride your bike, walk along the beach, swim all day in your pool, and see a beautiful sunset? With summertime fun, safety is crucial. If you keep safety in mind this summer, you will have a great summer with your kids.

Remember to follow certain safety rules when in the sun, around a pool, riding a bike or other wheeled toys, and around the playground. First and foremost is keeping out of the danger of the sun. For babies less than 6 months, dress them in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and brimmed hats that shade the neck to prevent sunburn. Sunscreen can only be used when adequate clothing and shade are not available. Parents can apply a small amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) to small areas, such as the infant's face and the back of the hands. For children over 6 months, first line of protection is sunscreen. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater that protects against UVB and UVA rays. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Remember you can get sunburned more quickly near water and sand because the sun rays reflect off them. The heat is just as dangerous as the sun’s rays, so keep hydrated and stay out of the sun during peak hours of 10 am to 4 pm.

Many of us spend hours in our pool in the backyard. It is endless hours of entertainment and shelter from the heat. Safety is extremely important as Florida experience so many drownings each year. A fence (4 ft) around the pool is of utmost importance. While out in the pool, all children less than 4 years should be within an arms length from an adult-known as “touch supervision.” All children over 4 years old should have swimming lessons. You can start earlier, but the lessons should not be thought of as “drowning proof.” Always have rescue equipment on hand and do not use inflatable as rescue items.

If not at the pool, we can find most kids at the playground. Make sure to check to see the playgrounds are being properly maintained. Also see that swings are made of soft material and not easily pinch or trap a body part. Do not let a child attach ropes or strings to playground equipment as that may be a strangling hazard. Kids must wear shoes on the playground. There should be full supervision on playground equipment. Trampolines in your own yard is tempting but should not be used.

Bike and other wheeled equipment is an integral part of our school aged kids. Helmets are the first line of protection. Helmets are worn when on long or short rides, even in your own driveway. When purchasing a helmet, look for a label that says the helmet meets the CPSC safety standard. Helmets only work if worn properly. It should be worn so that it is level on the head, not tipped forwards or backwards. The strap should be securely fastened, and you should not be able to move the helmet in any direction. Helmets have extra pads to allow proper fitting.

There are many things to do over the summer, so have fun and stay safe!

Dr. Bhumi Upadhyay, a board-certified pediatrician and active member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, graduated from the University of Miami six-year Honors Program in Medicine. If you have questions about this article or your child, email Dr. Bhumi at She is accepting new patients; please call to get to know the doctor at (727) 526-PEDS



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