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Archive for Saturday, June 2, 2001

How to avoid harm

June 2, 2001

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Unintentional injury is the No. 1 killer of children, taking more lives than disease, violence and suicide. Here are some summer safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Provide shelter from the sun

Babies younger than 6 months old should be kept out of direct sunlight. Move your baby to the shade or under a tree, umbrella or the stroller canopy. Dress babies in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs and use brimmed hats.

Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside, even on cloudy days. The sun protection factor should be at least 15. Keep children out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest.

Use repellents to avoid pests

Don't use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your child. Repellents appropriate for use on children should contain no more than 10 percent DEET. The concentration of DEET, which absorbs into the skin, varies significantly from product to product, so read labels.

Avoid areas where insects congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and gardens where flowers are in bloom. Avoid dressing your child in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints.

To remove a visible stinger from skin, gently scrape it off horizontally with a credit card or your fingernail, or pinch it out with tweezers or your fingers.

Make playgrounds pinch-proof

Maintain all equipment. Swings should be made of soft materials such as rubber, plastic or canvas. Make sure children cannot reach any moving parts that might pinch or trap any body part. Make sure metal slides stay cool.

Cover areas under and around play equipment with materials such as wood chips, mulch, pea gravel, sand or interlocking rubber matting. Grass, dirt, asphalt and concrete will cause problems and injuries.

Buckle up for the road

Buckle car seats and seat belts. Carry supplies such as snacks, water, a first-aid kit and any medicines your child takes. Always use a car seat, starting with your baby's first ride home from the hospital.

Put your child in the back seat it is the safest place in the car because it is farthest away from a head-on crash (the most common type of crash). The harness system holds your child in the car seat and the seat belts hold the seat in the car. Attach both snugly. Children in rear-facing car seats should never be placed in a front seat equipped with an air bag.

Fence that pool in

Surround your pool on all four sides with a sturdy 5-foot fence. Make sure the gates self-close and self-latch at a height children can't reach. Keep rescue equipment such as a shepherd's hook (a long pole with a hook on the end), life preserver and a portable telephone near the pool.

Children are not ready for swim lessons until they are at least 4. Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within arm's length, providing "touch supervision."

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