Keeping Your Family Safe Outdoors

Summertime means more time outside, and that’s a good thing for both kids and adults. It also means making sure your family is safe from concerns that aren’t a problem other times of the year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have tips to keep your family safe outdoors dealing with:

Sun Safety

When it comes to sun safety, the primary concern is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, which causes most cases of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer. Excessive exposure to UV light as a child can show up as skin cancer as an adult, so early precautions to protect your child’s skin now can pay off in the future. The CDC recommends protecting skin by:

  • Seeking shade, especially during late morning through mid-afternoon.
  • Wearing clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  • Wearing a hat with a wide brim that shades your face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wearing sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection.
  • Remember to reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.

The CDC has additional information on each of these points.

Mosquito and Tick Bites

Mosquito and tick bites are not just painful annoyances, but potential sources of diseases like West Nile Virus(mosquitos) and Lyme disease(ticks). While both of these diseases are relatively rare, occurrences both West Nileand Lyme diseasein Illinois have increased significantly in the last 15 years. The CDC’s recommendations for protecting yourself and your family from mosquito and tick bitesinclude:

  • Use an EPA-registered insect repellentcontaining DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), Para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • Do not spray insect repellent on skin under clothing.
  • If you are also using sunscreen, apply the sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
  • Don’t use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old, and don’t use repellents containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Check for ticks on yourself, your child, and your pet after being outdoors, especially if they have been near taller grasses and plants.

If you, your child, or your pet should pick up a tick, the CDC has instructions on how to safely remove it.

Poisonous Plants

The primary poisonous plants that people worry about in the United States are poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. The old saying “Leaves of three, Let it be!” is a helpful reminder for identifying poison ivy and oak, but not poison sumac which usually has clusters of 7-13 leaves. Even poison ivy and poison oak may have more than three leaves and their form may vary greatly depending upon the exact species encountered, the local environment, and the season. Being able to identify local varieties of these poisonous plants throughout the seasons and differentiating them from common nonpoisonous look-a-likes are the major keys to avoiding exposure. Check out the CDC page for pictures to help you identify these plants.

All three of these plants release an oil, called urushiol, when the leaf or other plant parts are bruised, damaged, or burned. When the oil gets on the skin an allergic reaction, referred to as contact dermatitis, occurs in most exposed people as an itchy red rash with bumps or blisters. When exposed to 50 micrograms of urushiol, an amount that is less than one grain of table salt, 80% to 90% of adults will develop a rash. Burning these poisonous plants can be very dangerous because the allergens can be inhaled, causing lung irritation. Exposure to urushiol can come from:

  • Direct contact with the plant
  • Indirect contact, such as touching tools, livestock, or clothing that have urushiol on them
  • Inhalation of particles containing urushiol from burning plants

The CDC has information on how to identify exposure to a poisonous plant and how to treat it.

Photo © 2010 by Stefan Jacobsunder Creative Commons license.

Helping Your Kid Cope

Being a parent is stressful. Increasingly, being a child is as well. One of the skills we need to teach our children is how to cope—with setbacks, with disappointment, with feeling overwhelmed, and more. Coping skills are an essential part of becoming a resilient person who can deal with life’s ups and downs.

To help you teach your child how to handle difficult times, iMomhas a list of essential coping skills for kids. Most of these are simple strategies that you can teach your child to use when things get hard. Among them are:

  • Breathe
  • Create art
  • Talk it out
  • Take a break
  • Get the negative energy OUT
  • Problem solve
  • Squeeze the lemons
  • Remember
  • Ask for a hug

Every child is different, so not every coping skill works for every child. Find the ones that work best for your child. You can get the details on the skills listed above and more in the iMom article.

10 Keys to Raising a Great Teenager

It can be difficult having a teenager in the house. At times, it seems like your kid has become a giant toddler, with every request from you met with “Why?” or “No.” And it’s not nearly as cute as it was then when they stamp their foot and pout. But this turmoil is also an essential part of becoming an adult.

To help you through these challenging years, All-Pro Dad has a list of ten keys to raising a great teenager. These keys are:

  1. Under all the scowls and frowns, your child is still there.
  2. Let your love show.
  3. Encourage their faith.
  4. Don’t talk at your teens.
  5. Remember to listen.
  6. Reinforce a standard with teens.
  7. Get to know their friends.
  8. Offer your wisdom.
  9. Help them stay focused.
  10. Take them on an adventure.

These keys will help you maintain your sanity through the teenage years, so check out the full article for more information on each one. And remember, just like the toddler years, the teenage years will eventually end.

Teacher Gifts That Go Beyond the Coffee Mug

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week, and the end of school is coming up fast. Are you at a loss for a gift for your child’s teacher? You know that another #1 Teacher mug is not the answer, but what is? Both National PTA’s Our Childrenmagazine and Great Schools! have suggestions for great teacher gifts.

National PTA’s article suggests:

  • Coffee and treats (perhaps with a gift card)
  • A supply gift box
  • A mobile battery charger
  • Something homemade
  • A crafty phone case
  • A personalized, handmade thank you card

Great Schools! has additional gift ideas, including:

  • Flowers or a live plant
  • A gift card for coffee, supplies, or something more indulgent
  • A gift basket with a theme
  • A donation to the teacher’s favorite cause
  • A donation to your child’s class

Avoid the mug or apple-shaped tchotchke. Check out both the National PTA article and the Great Schools! article for more information on these gift ideas.

Photo © 2011 by Edward Ross under Creative Commons license.