Safe-summer 101

From scrapes to SPF

EVERY YEAR, WITH the arrival of the warm weather, there is an increased number of accidents. It is inevitable.

Remember the old saying “One ounce (30 ml) of prevention is worth one pound (.45 kg) of cure.”

The fact is still as true today as it was in yesteryear. We will never be able to prevent 100 per cent of accidents. Unfortunately we still have a long way to go to reach an “acceptable” level.

There are basically two reasons for this. The first is people just do not want to learn. They have been told, warned and preached to about accident prevention, but it just does not seem to penetrate past their middle ear. The second is that people are basically complacent. They know a potential hazard is present but fail to avoid, remove or prevent it.

When I was a kid, there was no such thing as “accident prevention education.” There was little to no supervision. There was no safety gear. There were very few limits on what we were allowed to do. Did we have more accidents? I really can’t answer that. My gut feeling is we were less accident prone. Why? Were we as kids smarter and able to avoid potential problems? Were we more agile and physically fit so that we got hurt less? Or were our bikes slower; the availability of “accident”-prone sites, such as playgrounds, less available or were there just less risk-taking activities? I don’t know. Sure we used to get our scrapes and bruises and occasional fractures but rarely anything more serious. My feeling is that we were more street smart and better able to judge the “risk-benefit” factor, thus avoiding accidents.

Accident prevention only takes a little thought and a little effort. As the Boy Scouts say, “Be prepared.”

Sun protection should be applied 15 minutes before going out into the sun and reapplied frequently. For all children more than six months of age a 30 factor or more should be used.

Insect repellent for children six months to two years of age should be five per cent Deet, 10 per cent for children to 12 years of age and 30 per cent for those older. Deet is not recommended for children under six months of age. The Deet may be reapplied two or three times a day. When inside after playing, a shower or bath will remove any insect repellent that may remain on the body. A product with five per cent concentration of Deet will offer two hours of protection, 10 per cent between three and four hours and 30 per cent for six hours.

Do not spray Deet on the child’s skin directly but apply by hand only on exposed areas. Do not apply around the mouth and eyes. Do not apply where skin is broken.

Insect repellent should be applied to the skin after sunscreen. Unscented products are the best. The more you can cover up with light coloured clothing the better. Tucking pants into the socks may not be a fashion statement, but it does give the best protection against ankle bites.

Water safety: you cannot take your eyes off a child who is swimming or playing in water. An infant can drown in as much water as it would take to fill a soup bowl.

Playground safety: ensure that your child uses age-appropriate equipment and has been instructed on how to use it safely. Everyone would benefit from taking a first aid course as well as one on resuscitation.

I wish you all a happy and safe summer.


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