Hopkins experts provide top tips to keep the summer fun and safe

As school ends, summer fun begins. Johns Hopkins Children's Center experts say safety is the key to an enjoyable season for the whole family. Children's Center experts are available to provide some top tips for the months ahead.

The dangers of fireworks

Fireworks displays light up the sky each Fourth of July, and safety is paramount for audiences. Alejandro Garcia, M.D., director of the pediatric burn program, and Erica Hodgman, M.D., assistant director of the pediatric burn program, are available for media interviews on fireworks safety. They offer these tips and others:

  • Fireworks can be extremely dangerous. The safest (and most impressive) option is to go see a professional show sponsored by your city or town.
  • Buy only legal fireworks, but remember all fireworks pose the risk of burns. They should be kept in a locked, secure location and never given to children under age 18. Keep a large bucket of water nearby at all times.
  • Sparklers often cause serious injuries — they burn at up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. They should not be given to children, even for a quick picture.

Beating the heat

Summer months bring warm days. Leticia Ryan, M.D., M.P.H., director of pediatric emergency medicine, is available for media interviews to protect against extreme heat. She shares these recommendations to beat the heat.

  • Hydration is vital. Dr. Ryan can speak to the importance of drinking plenty of fluids. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink water. With high perspiration levels, replenish electrolyte and salt levels with a low-sugar sports drink.
  • Stay in an air-conditioned area as much as possible. Keep the air conditioning on in your home, or go to a cooling center.
  • Watch the heat advisories, and limit your time in the sun on very hot and humid days.
  • Never leave children or animals in parked cars, even if the windows are open.

Enjoying the water

Swimming and water activities are popular pastimes for the summer months. Whether you're enjoying the water at the beach, pool or anywhere else, it is important to take water safety precautions. Pediatric emergency medicine physician Mary Beth Howard, M.D., is available for media interviews on water safety. She has some advice to keep in mind while spending time in, on or near the water.

  • Ensure your children are strong swimmers. Know their limitations when swimming, and keep an eye out for the "too's": Too tired, too deep, too much sun, too much activity and other signs of exhaustion.
  • Watch your kids in the pool. Even if they're strong swimmers, children should not be swimming without adult supervision. A designated adult should act as a "water watcher," whose only responsibility is to watch the children in the water for a set amount of time before trading off with another adult.
  • Wear a life jacket when engaging in open-water activities such as tubing, rafting and boating.
  • Don't dive into shallow water. Diving into shallow water increases the risk of hitting your head. If you're not sure how deep the pool or lake is, don't risk it.

Safety on wheels

Warm holidays often bring neighborhood bike parades. When riding a bike or a scooter, wearing a helmet is essential. Leticia Ryan can speak on important reminders about helmet-wearing, such as the following:

  • Make it a rule that a helmet is worn every time you or your child rides a bike, a scooter, a skateboard or roller skates, even for short distances.
  • Ensure the helmet fits correctly. To best provide protection in the event of a fall, the helmet should sit flat on the head.
  • Don't buy a used helmet because it could be damaged from an accident.

Fun in the sun

The summer sun can provide some much-needed vitamin D, but it also brings risks. Anna Grossberg, M.D., director of pediatric dermatology, is available to discuss these and other important sun protection measures:

  • Stay in the shade when possible. The sun is at peak intensity from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, posing a higher risk of sunburns and skin damage.
  • Wear sunscreen. Grossberg recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Make sure to reapply every hour and a half to two hours, more frequently after swimming or sweating.
  • Cover up. Find a hat and sunglasses you like, and wear them frequently to ensure maximum sun protection. Keeping covered with clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 45-50 or higher provides excellent protection, and can cut down on areas that need sunscreen application.

If summer fun leads to an injury, parents should contact their child's pediatrician or take them to the nearest emergency department.

Garcia, Hodgman, Grossberg, Howard and Ryan and additional Children's Center experts are available for media interviews on summer safety for families.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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