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By MarkBuckawicki (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Stillman and Friedland hope you are enjoying both the warm summer weather and having your kids home from school. In this post, we will cover essential summer health and safety tips from top authorities. Now that the kids have had a few weeks of just relaxing, you are probably looking for fun activities to keep them busy. Nothing says summer like swimming, and that means taking care of the basics—sun protection, water safety and the bug bites that go along with outdoor activity.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend you choose early morning and late afternoon hours to avoid sunburn. This is great advice if you are just taking the kids to the local pool, but if you are spending the day at a lake or on vacation at the beach, you will probably spend more time outdoors. Using a sunscreen is essential, especially on children under age five and those who are very fair-skinned. Choose appropriate strength and reapply during the time you are poolside and at the beach, especially after swimming. A hat and loose light clothing also help. Remember that overheating is also dangerous, especially in babies and toddlers. A cooling shower helps beat overheating, another danger in the summer.

Start by choosing a safe venue with a certified lifeguard staff and avoid spots where swimming is prohibited. Remember to discuss water safety before you get to your swimming venue and children are distracted and impatient. Swim floats and other flotation devices are fun to play with and enhance safety. You also should monitor your kids to be sure they are safe and playing safely. Step in if they are overly rowdy or in over their heads, literally. They can have just as much fun in the depths which suit their swimming capabilities. When they are tired and hungry, make them take a break.

If you choose a natural setting like a lake or river beach, be extra careful to check that no one has insect bites which need treatment. Re-applying sunscreen for your younger children gives you a chance to look them over, and everyone should check for bites at the end of the day. It is easy to pick up a tick without noticing when you are having fun, but less fun to deal with possible problems. TickChek helps you to identify the type of tick if you photograph the tick; this information is important if someone gets sick after being bitten.

Davidson County has the highest reported rate of tick-borne Lyme disease in Tennessee, with about 40 cases reported annually. A “bulls-eye” rash is a characteristic symptom of Lyme disease. Dogs can also contract Lyme disease, but are less affected than humans. Ticks also spread Rocky Mountain fever, and possibly the newly-described Bourbon virus which has appeared in Kansas. Mosquitoes too, are a vector for disease. If you notice anyone in your family has a change in health after a bug bite, see a doctor. Rash, fever and flu-like symptoms are warning signs that you need care.
Just two more quick pointers:

• If you are also picnicking, always keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. When in doubt, throw it out!
• Of course, driving safety in route and on the way back is paramount. See our post on driving safely with kids in the car for key tips.

Stillman and Friedland wish you and your family a great summer!

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