Here are ten of the most healthful tips from the forty topics posted in the past year:
1. June is the month for maximum sun exposure. In June, in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is closest to Earth, straight above you, and there are more hours of sunshine, all increasing exposure. Weather is generally cooler than in July and August, making you think the sun is less intense. Radiation is unrelated to temperature. Moreover, children are more susceptible to burning, having lost their protective tans from the previous summer. For more information, see our TenTips: Sun, Sunburn, Sun Protection, Sunscreens.
2. Appoint a designated “toddler watcher” at family get-togethers. Everyone wants to hold and play with infants and young children. But when “everyone” watches them, often no one is in charge, and toddlers may wander off unnoticed. Make sure that a responsible individual is in charge of watching children, and that this person returns them to you.
3. Discard prepared food left standing outdoors for more than one hour in warm weather. Hosts of summer picnics or backyard barbeques may be inexperienced at preserving food outdoors. Buffets are especially popular, with food left unprotected from the heat, sun, and insects. Young children (and the elderly) tend to have more severe cases of food poisoning. For tips on keeping food safe outdoors, see the USDA website Fact Sheet .
4. Don’t use products that combine insect repellents and sunscreens. While many situations call for both, the intervals of applications and other considerations make combination products impractical. Generally, apply the sunscreen at least twenty minutes before sun exposure while the repellent can be applied just before exposure. The repellent may reduce the effectiveness of the sunscreen. Consider using a stronger sunscreen. For more information, see our Ten Tips: Insect Repellents, Preventing Bites, Treating Bites.
5. Have a “becoming separated” plan. (“Becoming separated” sounds less threatening than “getting lost.”) Give older children a cell phone or arrange a meeting location. Tell younger children to stay where they are if they do not see you; most are prone to panic and start running, which will make finding them more difficult. Some strategies: tell them to “hug-a-tree” (See http://www.theozarks.com/HugATree.htm). Appoint a toddler watcher (see above). Investigate electronic child tracking devices. Such devices have been available for some years but are infrequently used. Check the Internet for sources. (TenTips will report on these devices soon.)
6. Have small children wear personal flotation devices when playing near water. Half of young children who drown or nearly drown were not supposed to be in the water. They wander away from picnics or ball games, or fall off docks or rocks. Toddlers who swim when you stand next to them tend to panic if they accidentally fall into the water. For more information, see our TenTips: Swimming, Waterfront Safety.
7. Consider the pros and cons of taking the family dog. Leaving pets at home presents problems, but taking them along does too. Many are unaccustomed to long drives, become unruly and carsick, and distract drivers. Dogs have landed in drivers’ laps, and have been lost or killed darting out when car doors open. Unrestrained ones become missiles in sudden stops, injuring themselves and people. Some dogs are “spooked” by wild animals that may be encountered during outdoor vacations. For more information, see our TenTips: Animals, Auto Travel
8. Getting out of the sun means more than just not seeing the sun. Sitting in the shade under a large leafy tree provides much more protection than being in the shade of a building with the sky visible above. Fluffy white clouds reduce radiation by merely 20%. Choose ground covers of grass or dirt, when possible. White sand reflects most of the radiation reaching it, and water, depending on the angle of the sun, waves, and other factors, reflects up to 80%. The shade of a beach umbrella may decrease radiation by only 50%. Reflected radiation is particularly harmful because it is additive to direct radiation. For more information, see our TenTips: Sun, Sunburn, Sun Protection, Sunscreens.
9. Teach children not to swallow water when swimming. Even at well-maintained swimming facilities, children who place their heads under water experience more cases of diarrhea than children who merely wade. Factors which increase the chances of the water containing disease-causing organisms include: hot weather, lots of people in the water, infants in diapers, small backyard pools, and natural bodies of water on private land. Chlorine evaporates in heat. The more people at a facility, the greater the risk of contamination. Backyard pools and private ponds, lakes and streams are often not checked for contamination. For more information, see our TenTips: Swimming, Waterfront Safety.
10. Minimize car motion sickness. Here are some suggestions:
• Serve small, light snacks before and while driving. Give frequent small drinks of cold water, juice and soda.
• Don’t let children prone to motion sickness read, draw, or color while the car is in motion.
• Place car seats so that children can see out the windows. Tell older children to focus on distant scenery.
• Keep cars cool and ventilated. Avoid strong odors. Get gas when children are not present.
• Stop frequently and allow children to exercise. Irritability in pre-verbal children may be due to motion sickness.
• Avoid winding roads, frequent traffic stops, and sudden acceleration and braking, if possible.
• Tell older children to breathe slowly and deeply for a minute or two when they feel sick.
• Drive during hours when children usually sleep.
• If medication is necessary, use dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) or diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Follow package instructions for use. For more information, see Ten Tips: Motion Sickness, Auto Travel.