May 27, 2021

School is almost out, summer is near, and everyone is ready to get outside! In preparation for a summer of fun and safety, let’s review healthy ways to enjoy this wonderful season with our kids.

Let’s start with the “elephant in the room,” COVID-19. We don’t yet know how the summer will go. We are seeing more adults in the population get vaccinated, and we hope you will be counted in that group! If you haven’t yet been vaccinated, you can schedule your vaccine and find the latest information at Current vaccinations are available for those ages 12+, and we absolutely encourage everyone who is medically able to get vaccinated!

Certain activities for your kids may continue to look a bit different than in summers past. Swim lessons may be semiprivate, your little may be wearing a mask during baseball, or summer camp could be organized into “pods.” Consider discussing the risks versus the fun of these activities with your child. However, you feel your child will be safest is the best option.

Another fun aspect of summer is the SUN! Make sure you are practicing and teaching your child good outdoor habits and sun safety. Everyone should be using sunscreen.

Sun Safety Tips for Your Kids

• The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under 6 months be kept out of direct sunlight (under a canopy, shady tree, or umbrella)
• Children older than 6 months should use sunscreen with an SPF of 15–50
• Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or drying off with a towel
• Because most people use too little sunscreen, make sure to apply a generous amount
• Put sunscreen on 15–30 minutes before going outdoors (it needs time to absorb into the skin)
• Limit sun exposure between 10 am and 4 pm, when UV rays are the strongest
• Children can get sunburned even on cloudy days; 80% of the sun’s UV rays can get through the clouds
• UV rays can bounce back from water, sand, snow, and concrete, so make sure your child is protected even when it is not sunny at the time
• Children should wear sun protection clothing (lightweight clothing ideally with UV Protection Factor or UPF listed on the label), hats, and sunglasses

Building Health Habits

Summer is a great time to build healthy habits around family exercise as well! This is a time to learn to ride bikes (with a helmet for everyone), go for evening walks, splash in the swimming pool, run through sprinklers and enjoy the many outdoor offerings in the Northwest! Show your kids how to live healthy lives by modeling behaviors for them. The AAP recommends children be active for at least 60 minutes every day. Active means moderate or vigorous age-appropriate activities that are FUN for the whole family! Try to limit screen time and help your child get outside and moving. Parents are a powerful role model for their children and can help them to feel encouraged rather than punished by opportunities for active outdoor play. Movement can include team or individual sports, specialized outdoor camps, recreational games, walking, or bicycling to name a few.

If you are in the Spokane area, there are scholarships available for many youth summer camps. Contact your healthcare provider or check the City of Spokane website for more information!

By Katie Longinotti, MS

CHAS Health
Family Nurse Practitioner