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Keen on Kids: Summer Safety Tips

Wheaton, IL (June 15, 2011)The start of summer marks the end of the school year and the opportunity for children to participate in more outdoor activities. The outdoors are a great way to keep kids active but steps need to be taken to make sure your kids remain safe, especially when going to the beach, playing at the pool, or simply just out in the sun.


“The hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. are the most hazardous for sun exposure,” notes Dr. Mary Keen, Medical Director of Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital’s Pediatrics Program. “I recommend using a sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, that offers both UVA and UVB protection and is waterproof. It should be reapplied every two hours in the sun, and immediately after swimming or participating in activities where the child may be sweating a lot.”


While in direct exposure to the sun and when appropriate, it’s recommended that a child wear loose-fitting long sleeved shirts and long pants made from tightly woven fabric which offer the best protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.  Darker colors provide more protection than lighter colors.  If this type of clothing is not practical, the child should at least wear a t-shirt or beach cover-up along with a wide brim hat to shade the child’s face, head, ears, and neck. Sunglasses should be used to protect the child’s eyes. Even with these added precautions, it is important to apply sunscreen for added protection.


Though swimming is a popular and fun summertime activity, the water can be dangerous, especially for small children or those unable to swim. “Children ages one to four have the highest risk of drowning,” notes Keen. “One way to prevent drowning is to fence off the pool area so children cannot get near the water alone.  When you do take your child swimming, they should always be in your sight. Children who are preschool age or younger require ‘touch supervision’ which means that a child in the water should never be out of reach of a parent. Formal swimming lessons can protect children from drowning and help to reduce drowning risk, but they should still be constantly supervised.”


Inflatable pools, plastic pools, or other small home water play attractions such as slides present other risks in addition to drowning.  “These items are usually filled with tap water and don’t require chlorine or have the proper filtering systems. This can lead to the spread of recreation water illnesses or RWIs, which occur through contact with the water or swallowing it,” explains Dr. Keen.  “In order to reduce your child’s risk of an RWI, empty the pool after each use, clean it and allow it to dry by leaving it in the sun for at least four hours before using again.  Larger pools that cannot be emptied daily should have filters and appropriate disinfection systems that meet the same codes as full-sized swimming pools.  Make sure that children who are ill do not use the pool and remind children to avoid getting pool water into their mouths.”


Keen concludes, “We want kids to have a safe and fun summer and by taking a few precautions, we can help them avoid any unnecessary risks.” 


For more information on Marianjoy’s Pediatric Rehabilitation Program or to learn about classes being offered for children with special needs, visit

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About Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital

Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital is a nonprofit teaching hospital in Wheaton, Illinois, dedicated to the delivery of physical medicine and rehabilitation programs including stroke, neuromuscular, orthopedic, brain injury, spinal cord injury, and pediatrics. Marianjoy’s $60 million, 120 private room replacement hospital is a state-of-the-art facility designed to enhance the naturally holistic approach to rehabilitation. Founded in 1972, Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital maintains an extensive network of inpatient, subacute, and outpatient sites and physician clinics throughout the Chicago area. Marianjoy is a member of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare.