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Tis the Sea-Sun to be Safe

Those magical days of lazy mornings, sun soaked pool days and warm evening cookouts are, thankfully, quickly approaching.  While summertime is made for flip flops and festivals, before breaking out the beach bags and camp gear, it is important to prepare for the various health risks that come along with all that fun in the sun.  Before school is officially out for the summer, provide families with helpful summer safety reminders and healthy resources they can count on while school nurses enjoy some much-needed rest and relaxation.

Sun Safety

Getting outside for some fresh air, enjoying a hike, bike ride or just a few peaceful moments in a beach chair with a warm, ocean breeze are all worthwhile delights of summer.  Unfortunately, the ultraviolet rays that come from the sun can be dangerously damaging to skin cells and everyone is at risk for sunburn and potentially developing skin cancer caused by too much UV exposure.  Protect yourself and children from the sun’s rays with the following tips:


  • Limit time in the sun by seeking shade and avoiding spending time outdoors between 10am-4pm when the UV exposure is at peak levels. Remember that even on cloudy or overcast days, UV rays can be just as strong.
  • Follow the shadow rule. If your shadow is shorter than you, UV rays are more likely to cause sunburn.  “Short Shadow, Seek Shade”!
  • Use “broad spectrum” sunscreen that protects against both ultraviolet B and ultraviolet A rays. Sunscreen should be applied 15-30 minutes before going outside, be water-resistant and be at least SPF 15.  Reapplication every two hours, or sooner if swimming or sweating, is essential and don’t forget those hard-to-miss areas like ears, feet, lips and back of the neck.
  • Wear sun-protective clothing made of tightly woven fabrics and add sunglasses and a hat on top.
  • If a sunburn occurs, cool compresses and/or baths can be soothing and acetaminophen or Tylenol can be administered, per appropriate dosage instructions, for pain relief. Drink extra fluids to prevent dehydration and avoid opening any blisters that may be present.  If the pain becomes severe, infection is suspected (swelling or pus), or there is accompanying fever, nausea or chills, consult your primary care physician or child’s pediatrician.


Water Safety

Whether it’s a pool, lake or ocean, dunking your head and splashing in the waves is a refreshing summer treat.  According to the American Red Cross, being “water-competent” can help make those cooling dips safer by improving swimming skills, understanding water smarts and learning how to help others.  Review the tips below before making a splash.


  • Never swim alone or allow children to swim unsupervised.
  • Always remain in designated swim areas and pay attention to signs.
  • Recognize limitations and the CDC’s perilous “too’s”--too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much hard activity and too much sun.
  • A U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket should be worn while boating or participating in water sports.
  • Ensure pools have secure, 4-sided isolation fencing and that rescue equipment is always nearby.
  • Be aware of inclement weather including storm clouds or possible lightning, as well as other potential hazards including currents, vegetation and animals.
  • Double check the depth before ever diving.
  • “Reach or throw, don’t go”! To assist a drowning person, call for help and, if available, try tossing a life preserver or other object that floats to them.
  • Small children are drawn to water–learn how to best protect them with these additional tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.



Insect Safety

  • Avoid stagnant pools of water, areas with uncovered food and gardens where flowers are blooming to reduce risk of insect bites or stings
  • Be mindful when dressing kids in brightly colored clothing or applying perfumes, scented soaps and hair sprays as these can attract insects
  • Don’t use products that combine sunscreen and bug spray which require different reapplication intervals
  • When possible, wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a hat and avoid being outside when many insects that cause itchy bites are most active (sunrise and sunset)
  • If a stinger is present (only honey bees leave a stinger), don’t pull it off. Gently use a fingernail or credit card edge to scrape it off.  If the stinger is below the skin surface, it will be shed with normal skin healing and does not need to be removed
  • In the case of anaphylaxis, give epinephrine (such as Epi Pen), if available, and then call 911
  • Monitor stings/bites for signs of infection and notify primary care provider if infection is suspected
  • DEET can be used to repel mosquitos, ticks and other bugs in children over age 2 months. 10%-30% DEET should be used, depending on the length of protection needed.
  • Picaridin is a DEET alternative that can be safely applied to skin or clothing
  • Check hair and skin for ticks at the end of the day if in potentially tick-infested areas


Back-to-school Preparedness

  • Summer appointments for health physicals and immunizations, as well as for dental and vision exams, can fill up quickly and offices may have reduced hours. Review required health forms for next school year and schedule appointments ASAP.
  • Reminder to pick up any medication that is stored in the health office during the school year


Setting families up for a safe and happy summer by providing informative tips and valuable resources is the best healthy ending to every school year.

Shop MacGill’s selection of sunscreens, insect related products and summer camp supplies.

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