Summer is always the most important season for children, but especially now, when the world has been struggling with the pandemic for more than 18 months. We should remember that this lengthy break from socialization has adversely affected not only their physical development, but also mental, since they have been deprived of proper communication and involvement in regular social activities. Summer is the period when we can help them compensate the loss. So keeping them active, yet ensuring their safety is crucial.
The rays of the summer sun
Sun rays are important, but following safety rules is even more crucial. Sunbathing is harmless only until 11 am and after 5 pm. At other times, there is a high risk of getting sunburn both for the kids and adults. Moreover, over the years (approximately 20-30 years after), exposure to the UV rays, increases the risk of developing one of the most serious types of skin diseases – Melanoma. There’s a simple method to check when the sun is at its peak: look at your shadow; when it is shorter than your actual height, the intensity of the sun is higher, which indicates that you should limit your exposure to the sun.
Protecting your skin from the sun rays is one of the key components for leading a healthy lifetyle during summer. Importantly, this recommendation applies not only to the children playing or sunbathing on the beach, but to the youth, who enjoy their time in yards, forests, etc. It is important to apply a thick layer of sunscreen with an SPF 30 or more, half an hour before the child leaves a building and this should be repeated every two hours. But if the child has frequent exposure to water, for example, is swimming in the sea, river, or a pool, the sunscreen must be applied each time they get out of water.
When it comes to protection, remember that apart from your skin, it is essential to protect your head, hands and eyes from the direct sunlight. It is advisable that the kids wear a wide-brimmed hat covering their head, neck and shoulders and a T-shirt that blocks the sunrays. There’s a simple trick for choosing the right T-shirt: pay attention to the fabric, the less transparent it is, the more protected your child’s body. Also, don’t forget to provide your kids with sunglasses that offer 99% protection, because sun rays damage not only our skin but the cornea too.
The majority of parents believe, that providing sufficient amounts of water to children is determined by how often they request it, which is fundamentally wrong. In the summer, human body loses large quantities of water. Therefore, children who are physically active need to drink approximately 6 glasses of water per day. In children aged 10 to 12, the daily intake may increase up to 10-11 glasses. It’s not recommended to rehydrate your body with soft drinks, although you can provide your child with a freshly squeezed juice, tea or mineral water. Fortunately, children love cucumbers, tomatoes and watermelons, which contain large quantities of water.
Apart from teaching children how to swim, we should always keep in mind that there are frequent cases of catching infectious diseases through water. Chlorination and filtration are essential if your child is swimming in a pool. However, no matter how clean the pool is, swallowing water should be avoided at all times, since it is the main source of infections.
We all know that summer is also the season for fighting the insects. Wasps, mosquitoes, bees, mites and other species are particularly active during the period not only in cities, but also by the seaside and mountain resorts. This means that alongside other activities, children also need to be protected from the insects. These are particularly attracted to sweet smells, therefore, using ointments and body sprays that have sweet scent is not recommended. At home, it’s a good idea to use fly screens or mosquito nets, while in the nature you can use special insect repellents.
Bicycles, scooters and so on
Wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle or other wheeled recreational devices is recommended at all times. Certainly, it is not allowed to let your child occupy the front seat. When travelling by car, it is necessary to use portable car seats for children, and remember that using seat belts is recommended only from a certain age. Also, be careful if out of necessity, you have to leave your kid unattended in the car. In such cases, make sure you turn on the air conditioner or open the windows, so that your child won’t be waiting in the heat.
Professor at Tbilisi State Medical University
Director of M. Iashvili Children's Central Hospital