Use this pediatrician’s checklist to send your kids off to summer camp safely.
With the end of the school year in sight, many kids are eagerly preparing to bid farewell to class, and embrace the joys of camp. As parents ready themselves and their children for eight weeks of carefree fun, Dr. Ellen Lestz, pediatrician at White Plains Hospital Medical and Wellness in Armonk, shares some helpful tips to keep kids safe and healthy.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
With the summertime heat and humidity that the Northeast is known for, plenty of water throughout the day is a summer camp must. “In order to prevent heat-related illness, make sure your children take plenty of breaks throughout their long days in the sun and that they drink about 3-8 ounces of water every 20 minutes,” Dr. Lestz recommends.
Ban the Bugs…Carefully
While DEET is a powerful insect repellant, its use should be monitored with some precautions, especially for children. Dr. Lestz advises only using products that contain 10 percent or less of DEET, applied to exposed skin and clothing and avoiding the mouth, eyes and hands. “Have the counselor apply the repellant, and make sure your child showers after going back inside for the night,” she says. “Also, don’t use combination sunscreen and repellant as reapplication for sun protection.”
Practice Sun Safety
Send kids off for the day coated with an SPF of 30 or higher. At least 2 ounces, or quarter size drop for each body part, is usually a good guideline to follow. Your kids should reapply sunscreen every two hours or less, especially if they are sweating or swimming a lot. And don’t forget the most commonly missed spot: top of the ears. “If kids come home with sunburn and it’s painful, you can give them Tylenol,” Dr. Lestz says. “If their skin is blistering, just leave it alone. You can try some aloe to sooth the burning sensations.”
Check Off the Checkup
Most, if not all, camps require campers to get physical clearance from their pediatricians, including being up to date on immunizations. Have a conversation with your doctor specifically about the meningitis vaccine – it’s not required by all camps, but it’s definitely worth considering. Bacterial meningitis is an airborne infection that affects the brain and spine, and it’s easily spread and a particular risk at sleep-away camp, Dr. Lestz says.
Remember to Relax
Like in school, children should know that good listening, respect for those in charge, and treating other children with kindness are always important. Dr. Lestz advises parents of sleep away campers to stay cheerful and positive. “Remind your children that going to camp is a big step and that it’s okay to be nervous,” she says. “And remind yourself that your kids are gaining independence in a way they might not otherwise experience, and are enjoying opportunities that will be remembered for a lifetime.”
To make an appointment, see Dr. Lestz’s profile or call her Armonk office at (914) 849-7900.