Sun & Water Safety: How Families Can Stay Safe and Healthy During Summer Months

Meet Lisa Beck, PA-C. As one of the first Hazel healthcare providers, Lisa is passionate about building connections with the students she works with.

Lisa received a B.S. in Nutritional Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She graduated from Stanford University Medical Center in 2001 as a PA and is NCCPA (National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants) certified. 

As the summer heats up, we sit down with Lisa to hear her tips on how to keep kids safe from sun and water exposure. Remember, sunburns and skin damage can occur even on cloudy days!

 

What are the best ways to prevent dangerous sun exposure? 

Sun protection is important ALL year long. The most intense rays from the sun are during the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. When playing outside, it is important to be intentional with sun protection. Apply a broad-spectrum (protects from UVA & UVB rays) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more at least 20 minutes before sun exposure to ALL sun-exposed areas. Look for sunscreens that are water or sweat resistant and make sure to reapply every 2 hours, sooner if swimming or sweating. Cover up! Wearing-wide brimmed hats, lip balm, sun glasses, clothing that is not see-through and seeking shady places will also keep you safe, cool and happy!

 

Is there a recommended max number of hours that children should spend in the sun per day? 

Depending on skin type, there is a range of time in the sun, unprotected, where damage can occur.  If you are fair skinned with red or blond hair and light eyes, UV rays become harmful in 10 minutes; if you have light-brown skin with brown eyes, damage occurs in 30 minutes; if you have dark brown skin, brown or black hair with brown eyes, UV rays can lead to sunburn in 60 minutes. 

Looking up your local UV Index, the measurement of the current intensity of UVB radiation, can also help. The higher the number, the more likely you will sunburn: 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK321117/

 

What are some signs that a sunburn is actually a more serious condition, like sun poisoning? 

In addition to sunburn symptoms (skin red, painful), you may see blisters, fever, headache, confusion, nausea/vomiting, dehydration, dizziness or fainting with sun poisoning.  

See your regular doctor or go to an emergency room if these symptoms develop. Sun poisoning can be life threatening. 

 

What are some things parents can do to make sure children are safe around the water this summer? 

ALWAYS watch your child when they are in and around water, avoid distractions like phones.  NEVER leave your child unattended around water. Install fences around home pools. Teach your child how to swim and/or enroll in swim classes.  Learn CPR. 

 

How much time should children spend in the water?

It is recommended that children 6 years and older get at least one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise a day. Swimming and water play can fit into that guideline! For safety, ensure water temperature is 83-86℉, temps below 70℉ can be dangerous. Ensure your child has a healthy snack and is well hydrated before, during and after exercise. Because chlorine can break down your skin, have your child rinse off after swimming. Reapply a water resistant sunscreen after swimming.

 

What should parents do to help kids recover after a day out in the sun or in the water? 

Make sure your child gets plenty of water and a healthy snack with protein – PB&J, cheese & crackers, veggies and hummus are some examples. If your child was swimming in a pool, have them rinse off to remove chlorine from their skin and hair and apply lotion to their skin to avoid dryness that can occur with swimming and sun exposure. Have them rest up out of the sun to prepare for more fun & safe days!