Dress for the weather
The Flap Happy Flap Hat isn’t just adorable: It’ll keep your child’s face and neck shaded. Available in 40 fun patterns. ($12; 800-234-3527 for stores)
Note: Babies under 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight.
Apply (and reapply) sunscreen Up to 80 percent of kids will get sunburned this summer — and just one bad burn may double the risk of melanoma later in life. To keep your child sunburn-free:
? Slather on SPF 30 or higher at least every two hours (and always after she swims). Tip: Put it on before she gets dressed so you don’t miss a spot.
? Use an ounce of lotion (enough to fill a shot glass) to adequately cover a toddler. (and two ounces for an adult.)
? Avoid sunscreen battles with Banana Boat’s Tear-Free Sunblock, which won’t sting if it gets in her eyes. ($7 to $10; in drugstores)
photos: Ned Matura
Beach and pool safety tips
Empty that blow-up pool
If you’ve got one in your yard, make sure you dump it every night — no exceptions. If it’s too big for that, it needs a four-sided fence with a locking gate, says Don Mays, senior director for product safety at Consumer Reports. “With pools that are soft-sided, it’s easy for a child to lean on the side and fall in,” he says. “Covers don’t keep kids out, and can even entrap them under water.”
Protect little peepers Kids’ eyes are especially sensitive to the sun, but it can be tough to get your child to wear sunglasses the right way (or not at all). The Julbo Looping Sunglasses are symmetrical — meaning there’s no upside down — and with soft rubber on the bridge and temples, they’ll stay securely and comfortably in place. ($25; Julbo).
Beat the bugs
Hate greasy, smelly insect spray? Try a DEET-free repellent with one of these new ingredients, both approved by the Centers of Disease Control: Off! Skintastic Clean Feel with picaridin ($5; at drugstores) feels like water and is safe for kids 2 months and up, and Repel (pictured), with the plant-based Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE) ($5; at Wal-Mart and Target), smells like citrus and is safe for kids over 3.
Hiking and camping tips
Try a fresh water source
Kelty’s Starfish backpack has an innovative twist: a 1.5-liter reservoir inside with a hands-free drinking tube built right in. Odds are, your child will think it’s so neat, you won’t have to nudge her as much to drink up. The bag’s also roomy enough to stash her gear. ($40, Kelty)
Prevent food poisoning
? Refrigerate sandwiches and salads overnight so they stay colder longer.
? Don’t leave food out for more than two hours (one hour if it’s 90°F or warmer).
? When grilling use different-colored utensils and plates to keep cooked and raw meats separate.
Avoid the itch
Protect skin from poison ivy with IvyBlock — the only FDA-approved product that prevents skin from reacting to the plant’s rash-causing oil, urushiol. ($15; IvyBlock)
Other rash-prevention tips:
? Bathe exposed skin immediately with soap and cold water. It’ll remove the urushiol and may prevent a reaction if you wash within the first 15 to 30 minutes of contact.
? Machine-wash clothing that may have come in contact with the plant, and make sure it doesn’t touch anything — including your hands, car upholstery, and rugs — if possible.
? Don’t let pets run loose in the woods. It’s possible to get poison-ivy rash from touching a dog or cat who’s brushed against the leaves.
More summer survival tips
Ward off swimmer’s ear (and get the right treatment)
When water’s trapped in the ear canal, bacteria can grow (ouch!). What to do:
? Have your child wear ear plugs if he’s susceptible to ear infections.
? Put two or three drops of rubbing alcohol or a fifty-fifty mix of alcohol and white vinegar in each ear after a long swim, to help excess water evaporate.
? If there is an infection, the doctor should prescribe antibiotic eardrops (not pills) and painkillers. Have your child lie on his side, use a dropper, and keep him that way for three minutes.
Ride out thunderstorms
What to do wherever you are, from Jeannine Trezvant, education associate at Boston’s Museum of Science:
Out and about?
? Stop swimming. Bodies of water are good conductors of electricity.
? Seek shelter. Your car’s the best spot. Or take cover as far as possible from tall trees or poles.
? Stay off the phone and out of the bathtub. Lightning bolts can travel down any wire, down metal pipes, and even through flowing water itself.
To make it less scary for kids…
? Count the seconds between the flash and the crash. (Five seconds means it’s a mile away.) As the count goes up, it means the storm is passing.
You’ve got bandages and antiseptic, but don’t forget these first-aid-kit essentials:
? Tweezers, to remove ticks, splinters, and bee stings.
? Aspirin, which you can wet and rub onto skin to reduce itching and swelling after a bug bite or a bee sting.
Keep everyone hydrated
? Plan ahead. If you know you’ll be hitting the beach or it’s predicted to be especially hot, inscrease fluids the day before.
? Push drinks, even if she doesn’t ask for ’em. Kids don’t know when to stop playing when they need a drink, so you’ll have to be their thirst-o-meter. “They should be drinking at least four ounces every two hours, and more if they’re really active,” says Ellen Schumann, M.D., a Weston, Wisconsin, pediatrician.
? Infants also need more fluids when it’s hot outside — but not water, which can mess up their electrolyte balance. Instead, breastfeed or offer more bottles than usual.