Summer brings a lot of fun and outdoor activities, especially in this beautiful lakeshore community. How can you keep your kids safe while enjoying what West Michigan has to offer? Here are the top safety tips from Karly Hiser, CPNP-PC, a member of the new NOCHS pediatric group.
- Sunscreen. For children younger than 6 months, protective clothing is recommended instead of sunscreen. For older children, Karly recommends a sunscreen with zinc oxide as the active ingredient. “It washes off at the end of the day, so your child is not absorbing the chemicals into his or her skin,” she says. “Don’t forget to reapply often, especially after swimming.”
- Bug spray. The Pediatrics group gets a lot of questions about bug spray. “Bug spray is not recommended for children younger than 2 months,” Karly notes. “You can use it with caution on older infants, but be careful not to overuse it. As children age, bug spray becomes more safe for them. Just make sure you pick something with 30% DEET or less.” Concentrations on bug spray can vary widely, so make sure you read the label.
- Water safety. Did you know a child could drown in 20-60 seconds? You should never be more than arm’s length away from a baby or toddler in the water. As soon as your child is old enough, Karly recommends swimming lessons to help mitigate the risk. But never leave your child alone in or near the water!
- ATVs. This one might not have popped up on your radar screen, but all terrain vehicles (ATVs) can be extremely dangerous. “Always make sure your child wears a full protective helmet, like a motorcycle helmet. A bike helmet is not enough,” Karly asserts. “Also, remember that children who do not have a driver’s license should not be driving an ATV. It is a motorized vehicle.” Adults – you are also responsible for the safety of the children who are with you. Make sure you only ride during daylight hours, with proper lights and reflectors. And whatever you do, don’t drive an ATV under the influence. You’re risking your own life as well as that of your child.
- Bike safety. Karly has one word: helmet. “All children should wear bike helmets every time they are on bikes, even in the driveway.” Make sure the helmet fits properly or it won’t do much good. Also, parents: don’t push your child to go without training wheels before he or she is ready. A frightened or unwilling rider is a lot more prone to accidents than one who is confident and ready.
- Lawn mowers. While it’s great to teach kids responsibility by having them mow the lawn, remember that they are operating a dangerous power tool. Children younger than 16 should not operate a riding lawn mower, and children under the age of 12 should not operate a power mower. When a child is old enough to mow, sturdy shoes should be the rule, not flip flops. And never take your child as a passenger on a mower.
If ever you have a question about your child’s safety, make sure you call your pediatrician. “We’re happy to help parents make smart choices to balance safety with fun,” Karly says.
North Ottawa Medical Group | Pediatrics
1310 Wisconsin Street, Suite 204, Grand Haven, MI 49417
To schedule your appointment, please call our office at 616.844.4523.