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Free time to play and explore outdoors is important for children as they grow. Keeping kids safe during this time is especially important, as accidents and injuries can occur. Drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children ages 1-4. The best way to prevent drowning is with close supervision at all times when children are in the water. Children under age 5 should have “touch supervision,” with an adult always within arm’s length. Families with pools need to have appropriate fencing with gates around the pool, and should also consider pool alarms as drowning is often silent. Swimming lessons are important for all children, and most children are ready to start lessons around age 4 years.
For sun safety, the best defense is covering up and avoiding prolonged exposure during peak sun hours. In addition, children should always wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or greater (UVA/UVB). Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating. Insect repellent is also important to prevent infection with such illnesses as West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Children >2 months should wear bug spray containing DEET on clothing and exposed skin (avoiding hand on young children who often place them in their mouths).
Listen as pediatrician Corinn Cross, MD, talks about how to keep children safe around pools, lakes and other bodies of water in an interview on RadioMD.