July 27, 2016 10:07 am
If we lived in a world where insect bites and stings didn’t exist, imagine how much more enjoyable spending time outdoors would be for everyone! Unfortunately, this is not a luxury we are given and insects can damper summer fun for a lot of folks. Insect repellents tend to be the first defense many of us choose to protect the body from pesky mosquitoes eagerly waiting to have a field day on any exposed parts of the skin. While repellents certainly can be helpful, there are certain ingredients used to ward off mosquitoes that you should pay particular attention to – insect repellents that contain DEET. If you’re curious to know how safe using insect repellents with DEET is on kids, the Children’s Wellness Center pediatricians have put together our recommendations and precautions to take when buying an insect repellent for your family.
DEET (which goes by the chemical name N, N-diethyl-tolumide) is the active ingredient used in insect repellents. Applied to the skin externally, DEET helps keep mosquitoes away rather than killing them and can come in a wide selection of concentrations (depending on the kind of insect repellent you buy). The higher the concentration of DEET, the longer you’ll be protected from mosquitos, which may sound ideal, but too much DEET can be harmful. The goal is to stick between 10%-30% DEET (do not use anything over 30% DEET concentration on kids) because the chemical can be extremely toxic.
Low concentrations of DEET, like repellents with 10% DEET, are recommended for use on kids who plan to be outside for just a few, short hours of fun in the sun while insect repellents with 30% DEET concentration would be more ideal for an all-day, outdoor adventure. DEET is directly absorbed into the skin and while high DEET concentrations may carry the stigma that they’ll work the best for intended purposes, repellents with more than 30% have been shown to not work any better than lower concentrated DEET repellents. It’s similar to the idea that sunscreens that have an SPF of 100 must work better to protect us than one with an SPF of 45 because the number is greater (but we now know that’s not always the case either).
Once you’ve made your purchase, properly applying an insect repellent to your child’s skin is just as important. Our most noteworthy suggestions include:
- Never use insect repellents containing DEET on children under the age of 2 months.
- Don’t apply repellents more than once a day. This isn’t the same rule where once you get into water or sweat a lot you must reapply like you do with sunscreens to avoid the dreaded sunburn.
- Avoid applying insect repellent to your child’s face, mouth, and hands. They are more likely to accidentally ingest the repellent chemicals or experience some sort of irritation after being exposed to the repellent then touching their face or putting their hands in their mouths.
- Always make sure you’re applying the insect repellent in a well-ventilated area to reduce your child’s chance of inhaling the chemicals.
- When your child is in for the day and not planning on being outside for prolonged periods, be sure to thoroughly wash their skin with soap and water to remove any residual chemicals.
- Don’t forget to also wash their clothes, especially before wearing again, in case any DEET lingers and finds its way back onto your child’s skin.
It’s important to check the active ingredients listed on a specific insect repellent to see what chemicals you’ll be exposing yourself and your child’s skin to. Be sure to always read and closely follow the product’s instructions to ensure proper usage and most importantly safety. Many insect repellents have been heavily tested and we recommend doing a bit of research to see which ones do its job most effectively without compromising your child’s health. If you’re traveling with the family, it’s a good idea to also remember to pack your own repellents, especially if going international. Other parts of the world may not actively test products to the extent we do here, language differences could cause application errors, or perhaps the DEET concentration is higher than we would advise using. Either way, KidsHealth®, the FDA, and the American Academy of Pediatrics offer helpful guides for choosing the right insect repellent for your child – there are many out there, you just have to find the one that keep your child covered when they need it the most. We want everyone to have a safe, enjoyable, and bite-free summer!
July 13, 2016 1:24 pm
This Georgia heat is showing no signs of going anywhere soon and what better way to beat the heat than a fun day in the water? A day spent at the pool, beach, water-park, or lake should be an enjoyable time but the dangers of drowning pose a greater threat that parents should be extremely aware of. Even if your child is a swimming fanatic, certain risks can be dangerous to their well-being. The Children’s Wellness Center (CWC) providers have put together a parent’s guide to swim safety to help keep everyone happy – and most of all out of harm’s way!
Be Water Wise
Safety, whenever being around water of any kind, is crucial and instilling good water safety practices in your kids can easily start at home. Teaching kids about the dangers of drowning and discussing pool safety rules help to prevent major injuries. Covering why they aren’t supposed to run on the pool deck, shouldn’t horseplay on slippery surfaces, or dive into shallow areas helps keep them, and other kids around them, much safer. Something else parents should consider is formal swim lessons as they help prepare children for being more comfortable in, and around, water. They may even help teach them what to do in case of an emergency. Flotation devices and life jackets are designed to offer extra support for kids when they’re playing in the water, but it’s important to make sure they are well-fitted and properly used (or else they can end up being worthless and do more harm than good).
A child should never be left unattended around pools (or any large body of water for that matter). If you have a pool, fence in the entire area and make sure the fence is at an appropriate height, has properly working locks, and is secure enough to keep the kids out. Taking your eye off your child even for one second can be costly and we know as well as you do how fast little ones can move sometimes! Accidents can happen to even the most experienced swimmers and they too shouldn’t be excused from needing a watchful eye. For older kids, always having a swim buddy, like a friend, older sibling, trusted relative, or parents, around is a safe swim practice that we encourage. Cramping, dehydration, or fatigue can make it difficult for even adults to navigate in water and not having someone around to help in a timely fashion can be costly.
In the case of a physical injury or drowning emergency, it requires fast action. Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind:
- We can’t stress this one enough – supervision is a must. Designate an adult as the “pool watcher” or lifeguard. When it’s each parent’s turn, wear a designated colored card, hat, or shirt while on “duty” to let parents know who is in charge of monitoring the pool area. Rotate every 30 minutes or so to give parents the freedom to socialize, eat, etc.
- Always have a cellphone or cordless phone nearby for calling 911 immediately.
- Consider getting CPR certified – it gives you the skills to help get air flowing back into the lungs until emergency responders can arrive (911 respondents are also prepared to assist over the phone if you’re not familiar with best CPR practices).
- For potential spinal or neck injuries, make sure you keep your child as still as possible, until paramedics can get to you. Most importantly keep their neck still so further trauma is prevented.
- Whenever an incident happens, act quickly and try to remain as calm as possible. It can be difficult during times of stress and panic to keep your cool, but it helps your child also remain calm. You’re they’re rock so if you’re scared and stressed they will be too.
There may not be a sure bet way for preventing swim-related injuries, but making sure potential threats are identified and addressed ahead of time is a huge advantage. We want you and your kids to have an enjoyable summer, one that’s safe and full of fun. Don’t forget to remember to always pack the sunscreen because sunburns can easily ruin a day’s fun in a matter of minutes! For questions about the pediatric services we offer at Children’s Wellness Center, don’t hesitate to contact us at 404-303-1314. You can stay connected with the CWC team by also joining us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube.
May 16, 2016 3:34 pm
Cars were invented with adults in mind but not necessarily our children. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 12 so ensuring our children are well protected when they’re inside of a vehicle (car, van, or truck) is vital. Each state has its own rules and regulations, but at the very core, child safety seats (or car seats) are required for children of certain ages to reduce the risk of potentially fatal injuries. Whether you have a newborn on the way or a child that’s nearing their teenage years, the Children’s Wellness Center (CWC) providers educate parents on car seat safety and the important safety tips for choosing the best car seat for your child – and ultimately their safety.
If you’re an out of state reader, you’ll want to check with your own State’s specific requirements for car seats but in Georgia, the Child Passenger Safety Law (Code 40-8-76) makes it mandatory for guardians to properly secure children under 8 years old in an approved car seat any time they are in a motorized vehicle. Under the current law, guardians must ensure the following:
- Car seats must be placed in the back seat of the vehicle. Car seats help to reduce the amount of turbulence and shock to an infant’s body, just as seat belts help to secure adults. Air bags are put into place to protect, but when deployed, they can be extremely dangerous for babies and toddlers just from the sheer force itself. Having children secured in the back seat reduces this potential trauma and subsequent injuries in the event of an automobile crash.
- Car seats must meet all U.S. Federal standards. When we buy new cars, we take into the safety rating that tells us how the car performs under crash testing. The same performance testing concept is applied to car seats, so choosing a seat that meets/exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 will ensure that your child’s car seat has been inspected properly and approved to provide the type of protection it’s claiming to offer.
- Car seats must be used in accordance to your child’s weight and height. There are a variety of different types and styles of car seats/booster seats that are meant to be used at different stages of your child’s growth and development. Each type takes into account a child’s height and weight, not their age, to ensure the maximum amount of safety coverage. Unlike clothing, this is one item that you do NOT want to buy so your child can “grow into it” – think of bicycle helmet safety; if it’s not properly fitted and securely fastened, it may not be able to properly protect like it’s intended to do.
- Car seats must be installed and used in accordance to the manufacturer instructions. Just having your child in a car seat is not enough – you have to make sure that it’s installed correctly in order for it to do its job most effectively. Car seats can seem tricky, but there are state funded resources, like Child Safety Seat Fitting locations, that can help install your child’s car seat, or just make sure that the installation you’ve done at home is correct.
Outside of using seat belts, there are three types of recommended car seats for parents to choose from. The CWC pediatricians encourage parents to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations for rear-facing car seats, front-facing car seats, and booster seats from the time of your child’s birth up until 12 years of age, or until they reach the maximum height and weight requirement for their safety seat, as stated by the manufacturer. Rear-facing seats are seats that have their back to the driver and face the back of the car. These types of car seats are recommended from birth to 22-35 pounds (depending on the specific car seat) and come equipped with a harness that cradles your child to reduce stress to the neck and spinal cord. It’s recommended that children remain in rear-facing seats until at least two years of age. Even if your child has outgrown their infant carrier, we support the recommendation that children should remain facing backwards, just in a bigger sized seat, to maximize their safety. Front-facing car seats are the next step up in the graduated car seat plan. Intended for children who have outgrown their rear-facing seat, children between 20-80 pounds typically use front-facing car seats which are also equipped with a harness to limit the shock from forward movements in the event of a crash. Lastly, booster seats help to raise children to a higher position in the seat so the seat belt fits their smaller bodies properly. Seat belts were intended for adults, so the positioning doesn’t always fit as snug as it should on the shoulder and chest. We want to reduce the strain on the body and seat belts can often cross a child’s neck or face – which can lead to extra trauma to vital parts of the body during a crash.
The American Academy of Pediatrics created the Healthy Children website to provide parents with additional resources on the health, safety, and well-being of children and teens, including helpful information on car seats (from checkups and installation to buying guides and recall information). The best way to keep your children safe is to read and follow your specific safety seat instructions. We recommend having your child ride in the back seat for as long as possible, or at least until they reach age 12 (or typically once they’ve reached the height of 4 feet 9 inches) before letting them sit in the front seat. The most expensive car seat may not be the best, but accepting used car seats can be dangerous as well as parts may be outdated or unknown safety recalls could have occurred. For extra safety if you’re going the used route, make sure the car seat is less than 6 years old and has not been involved in a crash (just because it looks good cosmetically doesn’t mean that it’s good mechanically). On top of everything, we recommend registering your child’s safety seat through the manufacturer as it will help keep you in the loop of any recalls (if you don’t register you may miss this important information) and always, always wear your seat belt. Set a good example for your kids and help promote car safety that can keep them healthy and safe for years to come!
May 11, 2016 7:27 am
School will officially be out for the summer and that means our kids will have a lot of extra free time to do the things they love! As we get closer to May, many kids are already gearing up for vacations, summer camps, sports, outdoor recreational activities, having a great time with family and friends, and much more. The Children’s Wellness Center pediatricians encourage all patients and their families to have fun in the sun, but want to remind everyone of some key summer safety tips to make sure that everyone in your family stays safe this summer.
Sun Safety for Kids
Too much sun exposure can cause sunburns or worse, skin cancer. Sunburns and skin cancers can be detrimental to anyone in the family and a big reason why we are big advocates for safe sun practice, especially in the summertime when we’re spending more time outdoors under the sun’s bright rays and sweltering heat. For kids under 6 months, they’re particularly susceptible to the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays so we recommend limiting their exposure to direct sunlight and providing extra shade (like under trees, umbrellas, and beneath stroller canopies) for when you’re spending time outside.
No one is immune to sunburns/sun damage and it’s important to deck everyone in the family out with wide-brimmed hats or baseball caps that cover the face, sunglasses with 99% UV protection (they even make these to fit kids), ALWAYS use sunscreen, and when possible, wear lightweight clothing that covers exposed parts of the skin. Picking the best sunscreen for your entire family is crucial in providing that extra layer of much needed sun protection. Choose a sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection from both UVB and UVA rays with an SPF of at least 15 (but the higher the SPF, the more UVB protection you’ll give yourself). Generously apply sunscreen according to the manufacturer’s recommendations before heading outdoors to allow it time to really get absorbed into the skin (this can range from 40 minutes to 2 hours) and reapply every two hours, or immediately after being in water.
Outdoor Safety for Kids
Outdoor fun is something many kids look forward to during their summer vacation. Whether going on a family vacation, having a sleepover at a neighbor’s house, play date in the park, or heading off to summer camp, outdoor activities are in abundance. Not every activity requires adult supervision, but it’s vital that certain safety precautions be taken to give your child extra protection when they’re playing and enjoying land and water activities. We’ve rounded up some of the top safety tips for a variety of summertime activities:
- Bicycle, Skateboard, Skating, & Scooter Safety – there should never be a time when your child should not be wearing a helmet while they’re biking or skating, no matter how long their ride is or how close to home they’re staying (yes, even in the driveway). Falls can cause minor to severe injuries including trauma to the brain, cuts and bruises, sprains and broken bones, so making sure your child is wearing their helmet, wrist/elbow guards, and kneepads whenever possible is the best defense for their body’s protection. Protective gear should be properly fitted, snug but not overly tight, and worn by all in the family (parents can help set the example themselves by promoting helmet use at all times). Young children under eight should be supervised and older kids should always have a buddy when riding/skating. Just as important, make sure they also stay away from major traffic areas as vehicles can pose greater threats to young riders.
- Bug Safety – insect bites can introduce a plethora of viruses into the body, like West Nile, Chikungunya, Zika, etc. so using insect repellent gives that extra layer of defense when spending time outdoors. Avoid using hygiene products that are fragrant (mosquitos will be attracted to the scent) and playing in areas where high concentrations of mosquitos are living (like stagnant water). When choosing a bug repellent, make sure that it contains DEET (note that it’s recommended by the American Academy of Pediatricians that DEET not be used on children under 2 months), which is the active ingredient needed to prevent-insect related diseases and cover up exposed areas of the body with long clothing when outside at night.
- Water Safety – splashing around in pools, lakes, and oceans can be a great way to beat the heat and enjoy time with friends and family, but water safety is vital as kids are at risk of drowning under certain conditions. Often, parents can get a false sense of security from floatation devices but nothing is a substitute for supervision and a bit of swimming instructions. Life vests should be mandatory whenever boating and also work extremely well in other large bodies of water. Kids should NEVER be left alone around a pool, in fact, home pools should be secure and completely fenced in so children can stay out, in the event they attempt to swim on their own. Having an adult on deck who is trained in CPR is also recommended to help act fast in the event of a water emergency – even the most experienced swimmers can harm themselves in water and therefore approach this activity with the mentality that nobody is immune.
- Fireworks Safety – fireworks can cause severe burns, scars, blindness, and even death. Even those types of fireworks we may consider “harmless” for kids, like sparklers, can generate enough heat to burn your child or even those they happen to be nearby. They may be fun for a short period of time, but injuries resulting from fireworks or fire are not something that should be on the menu for the 4th of July celebration.
Kids are going to be kids, and accidents can happen virtually anywhere, so we don’t want you to feel you have to keep your kid indoors or covered up in bubble wrap to keep them safe. We want to make sure you’re well equipped to reduce your child’s risks of injuries like sunburns, broken bones, insect-related diseases, etc., and with a little diligence, leading by example, and prevention, you can help them to have a wonderful summer full of fun and adventures!