It’s no secret that summertime is the best time to get outside, soak up the sun and play in the water. But parents should take extra precautions to ensure that a fun afternoon does not become dangerous or deadly.

Follow these tips for sun and water safety to keep your little ones safe from playground to poolside.


Sunscreen is a good thing, but did you know that some sunscreens can contain toxic chemicals now known to be endocrine disruptors? Thankfully there are many non-toxic, mineral-based sunscreens now on the market.

Whatever sunscreen you choose, it is recommended to apply it a half-hour before sun exposure, and then every two hours for proper absorption and protection. Apply liberally, too.

Another way to protect children (and yourself) from the sun is to wear light-colored, loose clothing, like white linen or cotton. Some clothing and swimsuits now come with built-in UVA and UBA protection. Wearing wide rim hats can also keep your scalp, ears and face from getting too much sun.

Babies and children have especially delicate skin and should not be exposed to long durations of sun. While a little vitamin D is excellent for everyone, make sure to switch to the shade after 30 minutes of prolonged exposure.

Try to avoid the harsh afternoon sun, when the sun is directly overhead. When heading somewhere like the beach where there may not be shade structures, make sure to bring umbrellas, light blankets and cover-ups to shade your little ones, especially if they need to take a nap.

  • Be aware of walking on hot pavement. Hot cement and asphalt have been known to cause second-degree burns.
  • Stay hydrated! A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces each day, and to add more if it is especially hot or if diuretics (like coffee, soda or alcohol) are being consumed.

For parents, that means reminding and offering water to your little ones throughout the day. Fresh fruits, such as watermelon, are another way to keep the body cool and hydrated.

  • Children need to be supervised around water at all times. Children under two are at especially high risk of drowning, but all children need to have a parent and/or lifeguard present while in or near water.
  • Swim lessons for children ages 1 and up can provide valuable safety skills, but even children who know how to swim should be closely watched at all times. With Infants and young children, keep them always within arm’s length.
  • When in large bodies of water or riding in a boat, all children and adults should wear life jackets. For children under 5, the jacket should also have a flotation cover to keep the head out of the water.

Even small amounts of water, like baby pools, fountains, ponds and rain barrels, can be a hazard. (Children can drown in less than two inches of water.) Make sure that children cannot directly access them, or empty containers when not in use.

Larger pools and above ground pools should have a gate that is at least four feet high, with a latch that cannot be opened by a child.

  • Keep a safety ring with a rope in every pool, and make sure children are aware of how to use it.
  • Swimming can be fun and safe activity, just stay alert and focused on your children while at the river, lake or pool.

Join Mercy at our Fourth Annual Safety Day For Kids, Saturday, July 14, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the Costco parking lot (on Northwest Stephens Street across from the nonprofit campus on Kenneth Ford Drive).

This fun, educational safety event will give kids a close-up look at an emergency helicopter, fire engines, ambulance, police dogs and many local safety-related vendors.

For complete information, visit

Bubba Petty is a Registered Nurse and Trauma Coordinator for CHI Mercy Health.

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