Summer's here! And, with any luck, so are a couple of months of sun and warmth.
With the type of spring we've had, even the most dour among us can't help but long for the heady days of past summers.
Interesting how the view through rose-coloured glasses wipes out memories of sunburns, mosquito bites, scrapes, and more major accidents.
Just in case the neverending bad weather does turn into a protracted bout of sunshine, I think a reminder about summer safety tips for parents is in order.
Babyproofing the great outdoors may be a little ambitious, especially in a community with as many parks as ours. But there are ways to help protect infants and young children during this season.
The best protection from sunburns is loose, light clothing.
Keep babies younger than six months out of direct sunlight and use minimal amounts of sunscreen only if absolutely necessary.
Older babies can handle short periods in direct sun and they, as well as all children should have bare parts lathered in sunscreen with an SPF of 15 to 30.
In the olden days, babies and toddlers wore bonnets. With all the hatless young children I see in strollers, parks, and playgrounds these days, I guess bonnets are passe.
But cool hats with large brims can provide fashionable protection for little heads. Remember, if you need a hat and sunglasses, your little one needs them far more.
Heat is just as much a culprit as direct sun.
Never leave a child alone in a vehicle, especially during the summer, even for a couple of minutes. Temperatures in parked cars can soar within a short time. A cracked open window doesn't help. Check to see if the interior is hot before buckling the kids in.
Water play can be refreshing and great fun in the summer. But supervision around water is mandatory for children.
A baby or toddler can drown in two minutes in a wading pool containing just a few inches of water.
Never leave a child alone or leave a slightly older child in charge when there is water around. Non-swimmers should wear life vests near deeper pools, and wading pools should be drained at the end of play time to deter mosquitoes and other insects.
Insect and spider bites and stings can be particularly difficult on younger children. The best prevention is to keep the little ones away from obvious bee haunts such as clover and flowers, and mosquito breeding grounds like standing water.
Closed footwear can prevent injuries caused by stepping on insects, rough surfaces or hot sand.
Health Canada has approved insect repellents with low concentrations (10 per cent) of DEET for use with children older than six months. However, avoid applying to a child's hands, and wash off repellents once children are inside and no longer exposed.
While repellents with DEET are considered most effective, DEET-free repellents are also effective and available. Check ingredients and, when in doubt, ask your doctor.
The number of serious injuries from young children falling out of windows increases as the weather warms up and windows are left open.
Keep toys and other objects that appeal to children away from windows. Make sure all windows, especially on upper floors are secured so children cannot fall out. Screens by themselves don't provide enough protection to prevent falls.
With a little planning and prevention, summer can be a great time for the whole family to have fun together. So here's to a sunny summer and keeping kids of all ages safe.
ù Check the ECD website at www.ridgemeadowsecd.ca for parks information and summer programs for families with young children.
- Kathy Booth is a local writer addressing the importance of early childhood development, and the work being done in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, and with Katzie First Nations.