Advice to make sure kids have fun in the sun

Summertime for kids is about making memories with friends and not spending time in the hospital.

swim safety
This weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, the perfect time for a refresher on pool safety.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – There are 16 days left to the official start of summer, and soon after, kids will be out of school. 22News is working for you with some reminders to keep kids safe while they enjoy their time off.

“Going down hills with your bike. I had a friend who got hit by a car,” recalls Jario Perez, a dad in Springfield, “And then I went down a hill once and busted my knee open.”

Perez knows too well the perils that come with summertime fun, and now, as a dad, he knows the importance of kids wearing helmets and protective gear. In fact, Baystate Medical Center’s Chief of Emergency Medicine Dr. Joseph Schmidt said broken bones and scrapes are the most common summertime injuries among children in the emergency department. He said sunburns and heat exposure also top the list. To prevent that, Dr. Schmidt advises keeping children inside during the midday hours when the sun is the strongest. With warmer temperatures come greater risk of dehydration, so he recommends keeping children hydrated.

One of the biggest concerns each year is kids getting left in hot cars, especially kids too young to be able to roll down the windows themselves if they can, or open the door. Dr. Schmidt thinks parents aren’t forgetful – they just don’t realize how quickly it takes for their children to heat up to dangerous temperatures when left for just a few minutes in a hot car.

While drowning isn’t a common occurrence in western Massachusetts, Dr. Schmidt said it’s always something parents need to think about: “It’s amazing how short a period of time, essentially there’s no safe amount of time to leave a child unattended near a body of water. Just a couple of minutes or less.”

“I’m outside with him all the time and I don’t let him go outside by himself or anything like that,” Jairo Perez said about keeping his son safe.

Baystate also recommends bug spray and long clothing to prevent tick and mosquito bites, especially at dusk. After all, summertime for kids is about making memories with friends and not spending time in the hospital.