Residents and visitors alike know that summer in the Golden Isles is a
beautiful and wonderful time of year. Warm weather and sunny skies have
families enjoying outdoor activities such as swimming, boating, picnicking,
biking or fishing. Southeast Georgia Health System encourages the community
to enjoy summer activities, but to do so safely by taking precautions
to avoid some of the more dangerous hazards of the season.
“Sun safety should be practiced year-round, but especially in the
summer as we are likely to experience greater damaging effects simply
due to the amount of time spent outdoors,” says Deborah L. Zito,
PA-C, IBCLC, Southeast Georgia Physician Associates-Brunswick Pediatrics,
a strategic affiliate of Southeast Georgia Health System. “While
everyone is at risk of sunburn, heat stroke and dehydration, babies and
young children are even more susceptible to the threats of sun and heat
To keep children and adults protected and healthy in the heat and sun,
Zito recommends following these tips:
- Be prepared: know what to expect by paying attention to the weather conditions
- Stay hydrated: consume a lot of water, avoid sodas and choose low-sugar
drinks. If you are thirsty, you are already mildly dehydrated.
- Avoid the heat: be especially careful between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the
sun’s rays are most intense.
- Cover up: wear a hat, 100 percent UVB protectant sunglasses and clothing
made out of breathable UVB protectant fabric. If outside with children,
take cover under large umbrellas and use strollers with large canopies.
- Protect infants: babies under six months of age should be kept out of the
sun. An infant’s skin possesses little melanin, the pigment that
gives color to skin, hair and eyes and provides some sun protection. Therefore,
babies are especially susceptible to the sun’s damaging effects.
- Always wear sunscreen outdoors, even on overcast or cloudy days, with a
minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15. The higher SPF the better the
protection, however, no sunscreen offers 100 percent efficacy. In fact,
the Federal Food and Drug Administration states that SPF benefits max
out at 50+.
- Choose a PABA-free product (para-aminobenzoic acid) and an oxybenzone-free product.
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours
or after swimming or sweating.
- Teach kids how to apply their own sunscreen. They will be more likely to
remember to apply it in the future.
- Avoid spray sunscreens, which are easily inhaled and more difficult to
apply with full coverage.
- Never use a combination bug repellant/sunscreen as it is not safe to reapply
- Research product options for the best and safest sunscreens; the Environmental
Working Group is a good resource.
- The best advice is to keep babies under six months of age out of the sun
entirely; however, if sun exposure cannot be avoided it is important to
protect all exposed areas that are not covered by clothing by using a
sensitive skin infant sunscreen.
Practice water safety:
- Children should always swim under the supervision of an adult or lifeguard.
- Stay in arms reach of children near a pool or any water area.
- Do not completely rely on children’s swim aids (“floaties”)
as they can provide a false sense of security.
- Avoid playing in beach tide-pools. These warm, stagnant water areas are
a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria.
- Ensure children wear proper fitting lifejackets at all times when boating.
- Never let children or adults leisurely float behind a boat as harmful fumes
can be ingested.
- Abstain from alcohol when swimming or boating.
“By following these easy summertime tips, families can spend less
time at the doctor’s office and more time enjoying everything the
season has to offer,” says Zito.
Talk with your physician to learn more about sun and summer safety. To
find a physician, call 855-ASK-SGHS (855-275-7447).