HOUSTON (June 20, 2014)

Saturday, June 21 marks the first day of summer – a season characterized by fun in the sun. Swimming, biking and Fourth of July celebrations are all activities that kids look forward to; however, these activities also can present very real dangers to the kids who enjoy them. Sarah Rizvi, M.D., FAAP, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center, shares tips to help make your family’s summer a fun and safe one.

Water Safety Harris County has more drowning deaths for individuals under the age of 18 than any other county in Texas. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, drowning is the nation’s leading cause of death for children ages one to four, and the second for kids ages five to 14. Remember these tips to keep your children safe while they splash:

It is important for all family members, even adults, to be aware of water safety and set a good example for younger children and teens. Avoid mixing alcohol and swimming and always swim with a buddy, especially when taking part in ocean or river activities. Even experienced swimmers should follow the buddy system. A single moment could save your life.

Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke are caused by exercising or playing in a hot, humid environment where the body becomes dehydrated. This is especially common in humid coastal cities like Houston where water loss and dehydration can be extremely rapid. If heat exhaustion progresses to heat stroke, it can be fatal. Consider these tips to keep your children cool during outside play:

Bike Safety

In 2012, more than 270,000 children were seen in emergency rooms for injuries from riding bicycles. Follow these tips to protect your kids while they pedal:

If riding a bike at dawn or dusk, light colored or reflective clothing should be worn so that motorists are able to see the bicycle rider.Fourth of July Firework Safety Fourth of July and fireworks go hand-in-hand, but if not handled properly, fireworks can cause serious injury. Before lighting that sparkler, study these safety tips:

Sun Safety

Summer is a perfect time to soak up sunshine, but too much sun exposure can be harmful and can cause skin and eye damage, immune system suppression and even skin cancer. Follow these tips to protect your kids while they have fun in the sun:

Even just a few serious sunburns in childhood can increase the child’s risk of developing skin cancer later in life. Teach children how to take precautions during sun exposure to reduce their chance of injury – seek shade, cover up, get a hat, wear sunglasses and apply sunscreen.

Avoid being in the sun for prolonged times when the sun is strongest – typically mid-day from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. If kids are in the sun between these hours, be sure to apply and frequently re-apply protective sunscreen — even if they're just playing in the backyard.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that all children — regardless of their skin tone — wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Even one day in the sun can result in a painful burned cornea (the outermost, clear membrane layer of the eye). Cumulative exposure can lead to cataracts later in life (clouding of the eye lens, which results in blindness).

The best way to protect eyes is to wear sunglasses. The sunglasses should be of good quality and not simply toy sunglasses. There are now a number of good quality sunglass manufacturers for children that meet the proper UV filter requirements. Sunglasses are extremely important even during cloudy days, on the water, or in snow activities as well.

Wearing sunscreen and limiting your time in the sun not only reduces your risk of sun damage and premature aging, but teaches kids good sun sense. There are great new formulations and lots of ways to make applying sunscreen fun and not a chore.“Children learn to copy what they see in adult and parent behavior,” said Dr. Rizvi. “The absolute best way to teach your children these safety skills is to practice them yourself. Review these tips and rules with your family each time before heading out for activities to reinforce the message and encourage lifelong healthy and safe summer habits.”

Dr. Rizvi sees pediatric patients at Children’s Memorial Hermann Memorial City in the pediatric emergency department, now open 24/7, 365-days a year. For more information, call 713.222.CARE (2273).