Summertime Safety and Serenity

AUGUST 12, 2015
Brian J. Catton, PharmD
When schools close their doors for the summer, kids are released from the shackles of homework and tests to enjoy months of action-packed, nonstop fun. Summer reminds me of my weeklong Boy Scout summer camp experience at dear ole’ Treasure Isle: plunging into that frigid pool at 7 am, earning multiple merit badges to become an Eagle Scout, and singing a dirge over the death of poor Cock Robin (horribly, I would add!), I was constantly reminded of the Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared.”

That motto is my recommendation for parents, caregivers, and children this summer: when summer takes its ugly turn, be prepared to take care of your child, however he or she may be affected.

Although summer consists mostly of laughter and creating fond memories, the season can also be one of the most dangerous times of the year. Dr. James Baker, a physician in the emergency department (ED) at Kaiser Permanente in Baldwin Park, California, noted that there is a 15% to 27% overall increase in ED visits between June and August.1 Although there is a correlating increase in ED visits among children, Baker notes common summer-related injuries that parents, caregivers, and children should be aware of, be prepared to prevent, and be ready to treat, if necessary.

Burns originate from several sources: exposure to the sun’s UV rays, sparks from fires, and touching hot surfaces, to name just a few. They are classified based on the severity of skin and tissue damage, as well as how each burn is treated (see Table 1).1-3

Most sunburns are first-degree burns. However, they can occasionally escalate to a second-degree burn. Points to emphasize for proper skin and sun health during the summer include the following:
  • Stay indoors between 10 am and 4 pm (during the sun’s peak time).
  • Wear long-sleeve shirts and pants that are loose-fitting and lightly colored.
  • Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going out into the sun, and then reapply at least every 2 hours.
When choosing a sunscreen product, it is important to select one that is labeled “broad spectrum,” as this will protect against UV-A and UV-B rays. Additionally, choosing a product with an SPF between 30 and 50 is advised. Any product with an SPF higher than 50 is not recommended due to there being no additional protection against UV-A and UV-B radiation. Do not expose children 6 months or younger to sunlight or apply any sunscreen product to them.1-4