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Summer Safety

Kaiser June 15 editorial Ad SCL Summer Safety SC Weekly

Don’t let the lingering clouds and late season showers fool you: the days are getting longer, summer is on the way (really!), the kids are out of school, and for both kids and adults it’s a time to be both carefree and cautious.

“We know exercise and fresh air is good for your body,” says Dr. MaryAlice Ambrose, neurology and Chief of Patient Education at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara, “but people have to be careful and use sunscreen even on cloudy days and not forget to drink enough water.”


National child safety organizations say a thousand children drown each year in swimming pool accidents. Others are hurt in falls or from getting hit by objects thrown by power lawn mowers.

“I have 2 great kids—-Alex who’s 3 and Nicole who’s 1—and we’re going to be following some basic summer safety advice this year,” says Dr. Cliff Yee, Chief of Pediatrics at the Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center.

Dr. Yee, who’s seen a lot of young patients suffering the summer “oww-ies” and worse, urges parents to check out the free, open-to-the public online Health Encyclopedia at (

There’s detailed seasonal safety information on the website, but here’s a quick look at some important summer safety topics:

  • Sunburn – Wear hats and opaque long-sleeved shirts and pants while outdoors. Use sunglasses with UV protection. Stay in the shade where possible. Try to stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Use sunscreen with SPF of 16 or higher, and reapply every 3 to 4 hours or immediately after swimming or exercising.
  • Exercise – Drink water before, during and after exertion. Stay in the shade and avoid exercising in the middle of the day. Pace yourself and take frequent breaks. Take extra care if the temperature is above 80 and avoid exercising at all if the temperature is in the 90s, or it is humid. Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if you have stopped sweating or have other signs of heatstroke, such as a fast heart rate, dizziness or confusion, high body temperature, or extreme lethargy.
  • Insect bites and stings – Wear clothing that covers the skin, and when needed, apply insect repellant containing DEET to clothing, shoes and exposed skin. For children, use products with no more than 10 percent DEET and do not apply to hands. In cases of bites or stings, remove the stinger (if applicable) and use ice to reduce pain, itching and swelling.
  • Water safety – Drowning is the leading cause of death and injury for children under 5 in California. Never leave a child unattended near a pool or other body of water for even a minute, even if the child knows how to swim. All pools are required to be fenced and to have a self-latching gate. If you are outside the fence, check to make sure the gate and latch are functioning.
  • Poison oak – It’s out there. The leaves grow in clusters of three and are green or red in the spring and summer and orange or brown in the fall. If you come into contact with the leaves, flush exposed areas with cold water for 20 minutes. Wash everything exposed – clothing, shoes, even your dog. If a rash develops, using a topical steroid cream over 10 to 14 days can reduce itching. Cut children’s fingernails and encourage them to not scratch the rash.

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