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Do you have a well-stocked disaster bag?

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the Japan earthquake and tsunami.  Re-watching the footage from that disaster reminded me, again, how vulnerable we all are to a natural disaster.   And last Monday, my own little house was jolted by an early morning earthquake.  Now, this one was only a 4.0 and nothing even fell of a shelf, but the first thing I thought was.

Why do I still not have an earthquake kit???

This task has been on my to- do list for months, if not years.  I’ve downloaded lists, I thought about all the places I need to go to collect the supplies; target, REI, the hardware store.  I’ve heard the stories, I have a family to protect, and yet I still have yet to cross it off my list!

Well, now I have no excuses!  I have been introduced to PrepareUs, a local company that sells disaster preparedness bags.    These bags come with everything you need to survive after a natural disaster and I mean everything (Full size toilet paper anyone??). 

Not only do you get a well stocked bag, but a full step-by-step guide to help you prepare for a disaster, no more wondering what you should or need to do, its all spelled out for you here.

One more thing really sets these PrepareUs bags apart.  Their unique refill system.  They will automatically alert you if anything in your kit is about to expire and replace it, at cost, insuring you are always up-to-date and never have to think about your disaster kit again!

The guys at PrepareUs have put together a list of helpful tips to ensure our families have the ability to anticipate and conquer in any unplanned event.

With 7 things, break it down to one task a day and you’ll be prepared for anything by this weekend!

  1. Make a List: Take 5 minutes and just think – if there were a disaster right now, what would you do? What would you grab? What are your top 5 must grab items in the house?
  2. Stabilize and Secure: Go around your house and make sure all heavy and fragile objects are sturdy and secure, especially above your bed or where you would normally sit and lounge about. (Bolt that picture to the wall that is precariously leaning on top of the fireplace!)
  3. Plan: Become familiar with your children’s school evacuation plans and make a plan that works for your family so that you all know where to go, how to reach each other, and what each one expects from one another.  Write this down for each person and stow it in a safe place that is always near. (i.e. a wallet or backpack) Make a plan with babysitters and let them know where you expect them to go in case they have to evacuate you are not able to get home.
  4. Backup: Make sure you back up and keep extra copies of important data such as computer files, birth certificates, passports, and other items you feel necessary on either an external hard drive or online cloud server.
  5. Educate: Look up your local red cross shelters, find the local radio stations that you can tune into for information in case of emergency, and find the local 911 dispatch number to directly call local dispatch instead of a general 911 operator.  Also learn how to turn off your water and gas lines.
  6. Supplies: Make sure you have a Go-Bag with enough of the essential supplies: food, water, sanitary items, and any medications needed for each person in your family to last for a few days; keep one in your home, along with smaller versions in your car and/or office.
  7. Pets: We all know that pets are members of the family, so don’t forget about them!  Be sure to keep extra food and water to sustain them for a few days as well.

Natural disasters can be stressful and terrifying, but preparing for them doesn’t have to be.  With these few simple steps, you can become armed and ready for any unexpected occurrence, creating the safety and security that your family deserves.  For more information on anything we discussed, or to purchase fully equipped Go-Bag Packages, visit www.prepareustoday.com

 

*PrepareUs supplied the 7 tips and I was offered a discount on a go-bag as a thank you for this post.  As always, my opinions are my own

 

Should that nose go to school??

According to the Academy of Pediatrics, kids between the age of 1 and 3 can get up to 12 colds a year.  Symptoms can last up to two weeks, so with two kids (…multiply times 2, carry the 1…)

 

It’s a good thing it is a leap year because according to my calculations, my kids will be healthy for exactly one week in 2012!!

 

We all know kids are germ factories and pass these lovely germs to each other, between siblings, at the playground and mostly at school.  But with seemly never-ending illness in young children, just when IS it ok to send them to school or daycare?

 

 

Colds

Colds are the most common in this age group and symptoms can last two weeks.  Kids are the most contagious between day 3-5.  Contrary to popular belief, colds are contagious no matter the color of the mucus  (darn! That was always my excuse!) and they remain contagious the entire time symptoms are present.  You can’t keep them home for two weeks, so the best bet, good hygiene and frequent hand washing, but avoid contact with other kids at the peak of the illness.

 

 

Fever

A fever of 100.4 or higher is symptom of a viral infection, like the flu.  You should keep your child home and he should stay home until he has been fever free (without medication) for 24 hours.

 

 

Cough

A mild cough is ok to head to school.  A severe cough warrants a trip to the doctor as it could be bronchitis, the flu or pneumonia.  But as soon as the bad cough subsides, school is fine, you don’t have to wait for the cough to disappear completely – that could take a week or longer!

 

 

Diarrhea or Vomiting

Keep your child home until the illness is over and for at least 24 hours after the last episode.  But, some virus that cause vomiting and diarrhea can be shed in the stools for up to a month after the illness.  Make sure all caregivers who change diapers or who help preschoolers wipe practice extremely good hand washing.

 

 

Sore throat

A mild sore throat is usually not a problem, but a severe sore throat could be strep.  Children should stay home until they have been on antibiotics for 24 hours.

 

Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

Children should stay home until given the ok by their doctor.  Pink eye is VERY contagious and is usually viral, which can’t be treated with antibiotics.

 

 

Rash           

A doctor should see a child with a rash.  Other than common diaper rash (which even that can turn into a staph infection), skin rashes can be contagious and some require antibiotic treatments.

 

 

A few more tips:

  • For the most part, if a kid feels well and is acting normal, she can go to school, even with a runny nose.
  • Always check with your daycare provider or school for their specific sick policies.
  • If a child seems lethargic or ultra clingy, keep them home.
  • Trust your gut, you know your child; when they can power on and when they cant.

 

 

 

 

 

Resources:

Webmd.com 

Parents.com 

Kidshealth.org

I’ll try not to lock *this* one in the car

Yes, yes…I have.

Three years ago and I PANICKED!!!

I had parked at a bookstore and was standing with the back door of my car open where my 9-month-old son was strapped into his carseat.  I had already clicked the lock on my key fob and put my keys and my cell phone in the pocket of my diaper bag….which was on the floor of the backseat under my son.  I was hooking my ergo on getting ready to unstrap him, when the occupants of the vehicle parked next to me, returned to their car.   Knowing it was going to take me a few more minutes to get situated, I stepped back and shut the door enough to let the man past me.  But I shut the door a little to far….and it latched….and it was already locked.

I started to freak out.

Not only had I locked my infant son in the car, but my CELL PHONE was in there too!!!  What was I going to do?!?!?!

Another man was walking to his car and I shrieked at him that I had locked my child in the car and could I borrow his cell phone.  He rushed over and handed me his cell.

But who do I call?

I wanted to call my husband, but I was having a hard time remembering his office number in my current state.  The man had gone back to his car to get some tools, but really what was he going to do?  I finally remembered my husband’s number, but again, what did I want him to do?  He was 20 minutes from home and the spare keys and I was another 15 minutes away, was he going to go home, then back to me?

Now, a woman two cars over with kids of her own came over and assured me that “we have all done it” and offered to call AAA.

BUT WHY HAD NO ONE TOLD ME TO CALL 911?!?!

I was clearly in no state to be making rational decisions and I was close to breaking the window.

So I am hear to tell you right now;

If you lock your kids in the car, just call 911

Yeah, what you did was dumb, but just call.

I finally called 911 and the fire truck was there in less than 10 minutes, probably less than 5.  The firefighters were very calm, told me it happens all the time and had my door open in less than a minute.  They checked my son over, who was crying and a little flushed from heat, but was fine.

At about the same moment, the tow truck the other woman had called pulled up.  Turns out if you call AAA (or any tow service) and tell them your child is locked in the car.  THEY also call 911, and dispatch a tow truck immediately.

All in all, Brady was in the car for a good 30-45 minutes.  If I had just called 911 first, I think it would have been less than 10.

So here’s what I do differently now.

  1. When I get out of the car, I always put my keys in my pocket, not in my bag.
  2. I also always keep my cell phone in my pocket.  Even if I get out of the car to pump gas, I take my cell with me. (plus, then I can check Facebook while the gas pumps, right???)
  3. I leave a door open while I am loading everyone into or out of their seats (usually the front passenger seat).  I do a double check of my keys before I close the last door.
  4. I make people trying to get into their car next to me wait.  Sorry, but I’ll only be a few minutes.

I let my 3-year-old watch TV.

There, I said it.

I completely commend parents that can survive with no TV.  But, for my family, for right now, TV is okay with us.  I like the quiet time we spend snuggling and watching a cartoon right after he wakes up and I like the time that the video “How do they Build Fire trucks” gives me to tend to his sister or get dinner ready.

But I do worry about how much is too much?

The American Academy of Pediatrics stance is no TV for kids under 2 and one hour for those over 2 years.

In a recent article on Babycenter.com, Kathleen Acord talks about sane ways to incorporate TV into your child’s life.  (Now, in full disclosure, Acord works for a KQED program that teaches parents and childcare providers how to use TV as a learning tool, so of course her stance is going to be a little one sided.)

But let me summarizes a few of the key points:

Watch Programs, Not Television

Basically don’t sit your kid down in front of the Jerry Springer show and infomercials for the Shake Weight because that’s the last channel on last night.  This is why I love our DVR.  I can record shows that I feel are more appropriate and it is easier to control the time, since the recording shuts off after the program is over.

Choose Calm, Quiet Programs  

This is where the recent uprising over the “Sponge Bob Study” comes in.  Researches found that when 4 year olds watched 9 minutes of fast paced cartoons (like Sponge Bob), they then scored lower on brain function tests than 4 year olds who watched a PBS program or who colored with crayons for 9 minutes.

Frankly, I think parents all over rejoiced in a reason to NOT watch sponge bob.  I know the TV as education concept is debated, but I would rather my kids spout Spanish phrases with Dora, or count to 10 with Blue.

Watch With Your Child

Acord sites a study that showed when children watched TV with their parents, they scored higher academically than those who watched without an adult present (this study did not, however, compare academic success of non tv watchers).  The idea is that by watching with your children, you are not only more closely monitoring what they watch, but you are also sending them a message that what they do is important to you.

Extend What Your Child Watches Into the Real World

After we watch “How Fire Trucks are Made,” we drive by the fire house and describe which trucks we see, which one is a ladder truck and which is an engine.   If Dora uses the phrase “Falta Algo?” I try to use that phrase throughout the day too.

 

Worlds longest train track

I think TV is like any other treat we allow our kids.   It’s all okay in moderation and with specific intentions.   A good friend, who is a nutritionist, allows her child to have dessert every night because he eats healthy, wholesome foods all day long.  He loves a wide variety of foods, so sweet treats also fit into that wide variety.

I like the snuggle time we have on the couch watching a morning cartoon or unwinding before naptime.  But I also love to snuggle up and read a book, or go to the park and run around outside!  Some rainy weekends we make hot chocolate and watch a two hour Pixar movie in our pajamas.  But other days we build the worlds biggest train track spanning the living room and dinning room and the TV never even gets turned on.

 

Is it the candy or the costume that is causing him to ‘blast off?’

At family birthday dinner a few months ago, my then-toddler excitedly shoveled spoonful after spoonful of colored frosting directly off the birthday cake into his mouth.  As the rainbow of colors smeared across his face, my father-in-law whipped out his video camera and everyone else laughed and snapped pictures.  The only child at the dinner table, all eyes were on him.

Once Brady realized he had everyone’s undivided attention he jumped from the table and sang the “happy cake” song (his version of happy birthday) when his crowd erupted in applauds, he began to run, literally, in circles around my in-laws living room.

My mother-in-law laughed and said, “well, there goes that sugar kicking in!”

But I wondered, was it actually the sugar, or was he just hamming up the undivided attention he was getting?

A quick google search confirmed my suspicion.  Although generations of parents have blamed their child’s banshee-like behavior on too much sugar, scientific research says otherwise.  In no less than 20 clinical, double-blind research studies, sugar was found to have no affect on children’s behavior or their ability to concentrate.  In fact, the evidence is so conclusive; experts say the link is a “non-issue” in the science world.

So what does cause kids to climb the walls after a dose of the sweet stuff?

Chances are it’s actually the situation in which sugary snacks are served that causes the amped up behavior.  For kids, excitement breeds more excitement.  Most parents wisely limit the amount of sugar their kids eat, so when they are in a situation where they get that piece of candy…the thrill of the special circumstance leads to the excited behavior.  So it is most likely not the birthday cake that is sending your child into a frenzy, but the excitement of the birthday festivities and the 10 other 5 year-olds that is so stimulating.

Also, parents’ perceived expectations of behavior really come into play as well.  In one study, two groups of moms were told their child either received a sugar drink or a non-sugar drink, in reality all the children received the non-sugar drink.  Moms who thought their kids had the sugar, rated their child’s behavior as more hyperactive.

Now of course, there are plenty of reasons not to skip the peas all together in favor of jelly beans.  High sugar foods often replace more nutritious choices in the diet and high sugar intake is linked to obesity and tooth decay.  But, this Halloween when your little ghouls and goblins are bouncing out of their costumes, it probably has more to do with the costumes than the candy.

Vicks SpeedRead Digital Thermometer (Oral, Rectal, Under Arm)

Nothing is more heart breaking than when one of your children is sick, especially a baby.

My sweet little thing was sick this weekend and it is so hard to know what is going on when they are too young to tell you.

Like so many of us these days, I turned to the internet for some advice (plus, why do kids ALWAYS get sick outside of your doctors hours?)

On this site for familydoctor.org, I found a great flow chart for diagnosing illnesses.   I found it very helpful for deciding what to do for my daughter’s low-grade fever.  I think this would be hand to bookmark or print for future illness as well.

I could’t cut and paste the whole document, so see the original chart here

In addition to the chart, here is more information on how to take a baby’s temperature, when to medicate, when to call the doctor and other tips for dealing with a fever in a baby.

While on the site, I saw that they have all sorts of flow charts for adults and children’s symptoms.  Here is one on nausea and vomiting in children that could also come in handy!

The good news is everyone is feeling better this morning….until next weekend!

Brady helping make our garden smoothie

I have completed my  first week of green smoothies and I have to say….I think I am hooked! (if you missed the recipe, here it is)

I feel healthier, I’ve been taking better care of myself in other areas of my life, and I actually enjoyed my smoothie routine! In fact, I want to say so much about it, I decided to write a whole post just about taking better care of ourselves as wives and mothers.  Stay tuned TOMORROW for that post.

But for today…Lets turn it over to Selena and this week’s smoothie.  I will admit, when I saw the name of this smoothie, Radiate with Red, I was afraid it was going to be beets..and I was right.  I am not a huge fan of beets.  Selena offered to change the recipe, but after reading all the health benefits, I decided to dive in and try it!.

Read below for all the details.

************************************************************************************************************************

This week’s green smoothie is actually RED.  It will make for a prettier drink that may stimulate your senses visually!  The main ingredients are beets and carrots.  Why?  Let me tell you!

Beet benefits:
Red beets are a great carbohydrate/protein blend and are an excellent source of folic acid.

They are full of antioxidants that have been used for as preventative and treatment for heart disease, certain cancer treatments, and birth defects.

The pigment that gives beets their red color, Betacyanin, increases the oxygen-carrying ability of your blood which can give you more energy.

It also contains nitric oxide, which dilates arteries to improve blood, alleviate high blood pressure, and help prevent varicose veins!!

The fiber in beets helps reduce serum cholesterol.

Beets are known as powerful blood cleansers and blood builders.

Beet juice is highly alkaline which is very beneficial in our “processed nation” acidic bodies.

Red beets have also been known to help with the following:  Constipation, headaches, toothaches, menstrual issues, and skin problems.

And don’t forget the beet greens! Those leafy greens can be thrown in your smoothie too!  They are rich in beta-carotene, folic acid, chlorophyll, potassium, vitamin C, and iron.

Here are the benefits of our orange friend, the carrot:

Carrots are known for their high level of beta-carotene, but they also have a great blend of carbohydrate and protein, and vitamins C, E, and K.  Remember that vitamins in WHOLE FOOD work completely different than mega-dosed vitamins in your daily multi.

Carrot can enhance the quality of breast milk.

Carrot can improve the appearance of the skin, hair and nails.

Carrots have been shown to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and regulate blood sugar.

Carrots have a great antioxidant – betacarotene.

Carrot can help improve eyesight.

The fiber in carrots can promote colon health.

On to the Smoothie!!!
RADIATE WITH RED

12 oz of water
¼ c beets shredded**
3/4 c carrots shredded
2 large lettuce leaves or 3 small beet greens*
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 TB chia seeds (or ground flax)
1 TB honey (or more if needed)

Extra add-ins:
½ tsp Brewer’s yeast or 1 tsp nutritional yeast (they are NOT the same thing)
1-2 TB coconut oil (I used 1.5 TB)
½ tsp stevia – if you need it a little sweeter
2 large ice cubes – if you like it really cold!

*beet greens and swiss chard are the more bitter of the greens.  Using delicate greens like spinach or dark green lettuce can help you transition to the “garden taste” of these smoothies!
**I added in the shredded amounts for those of you who do not have a high powered blender.

You might also notice a red tint to your urine- totally normal with beets!

For more information on how to eat for energy using the foods you may already have in your home, please feel free to visit my website www.RadiantLifeHealthCounseling.com.  And, of course, join in on my mission:  surviving motherhood, growing Godly children, and being great stewards of the planet at www.1MomsMission.com.

Statements made are not promising the cure of disease.

********

Want to skip ahead and read all the smoothie posts now?

Green Smoothie Challenge- Week 1- Garden Green Smoothie

Green Smoothie Challenge- Week 2- Radiate with RED

Green Smoothie Challenge- Week 3- Fruits of Autumn 

Green Smoothie Challenge -Week 4- 2! Herbs and Dessert

I need to put together an emergency box.

I know, I know, I live in earthquake country and I have two small children.  I will, I promise.

But I do have an, emergency box of sorts in my car that gets a regular workout.  We’re not talking flares and matches, but this is the emergency kids supply bag.  I started this box in my car when I was out with my then infant son and he had a complete blowout and I realized I had never restocked his change of clothes in my bag, didn’t have enough wipes and had no blanket or anything else.  I cleaned him (kind of) with a crumpled napkin, put him back in his carseat, draped a burp cloth over his naked body and drove home in tears.

Now I keep a box in the back of my car with “just incase” supplies and I use items from this box ALL. THE. TIME.

  • Diapers: If you have an infant, remember to change the size of the diapers in your emergency box when they grow out of a size. You don’t want to have a diaper emergency with your 18 month old and realize you only have newborn diapers.
  • Potty Chair:  We are still newly potty trained in our house and knowing there is a potty in the back of our car just takes a little of the stress off our outings.  No frantic running to find a public bathroom or getting stuck at the park with no bathroom.  We know we can always go back to the car, or try before we go somewhere.
  • Wipes: A full sealable container- these wipes get used for a lot more than diaper changes, chocolaty hands, sandy feet and goopy car seats.
  • Changing Pad: I use a large waterproof ‘lap’ pad, or the pad that came with your diaper bag
  • Ziplock bags and a few plastic grocery bags: Bags seem to come in handy to contain all sorts of things; diapers, dirty clothes, beach collections…
  • Change of clothes: A full change of clothes for each kid and at least a tshirt for you (you’ll be thankful for it when you yank your vomiting child out of his car seat on the side of the road 20 minutes into a 4 hour car ride).  I also keep a pair of my preschoolers pjs in car for those times dinner at the in-laws runs a little late and we can just have him ready for bed before we even get home.
  • A travel roll of Paper towels
  • Wash clothes, burp clothes, bibs
  • An extra blanket: I have 2 of the hospital flannel receiving blankets.  They fold up small and again can be used as anything from a changing station, to cover a wet carseat, as a towel after an unexpected splash-fest, or of course as an actual blanket.
  • Emergency Feeding Items: Think of things that you know your kids like in case you are stuck in Tahoe traffic past dinner time, or decide to stay out longer than you planned; think Stable snack items: such as applesauce ‘crushers’, trail mix, jar of baby food, crackers etc, juice box, a few bottles of water, self contained powdered or premixed formula (if you’re using).
  • A bottle, a sippy cup, a few disposable bowls (for doling out unexpected snacks)
  • Warm hats and sun hats
  • Bubble soap, a sand toy shovel or a plastic truck: Just in case

Ok, earthquake kit next….

Any one who know me, knows I am a sucker for a schedule, or a list, or a calendar.  While I still swear by them, I also see how sometimes my reliance on them can also be a little paralyzing.  This has really proven to be true with baby #2.  With my first, I followed the pediatrician’s recommendation of doing tummy time for 10-20 minutes 3 times a day to a T.  It was like sirens went off…
 

Everyone stop what you are doing, installment 1 of today’s tummy time will commence immediately!!

The whole world stopped while we did our required time.  And I had all the appropriate gear too; the mat, the black and white toy, the mirror, what ever else some expert told me was needed for a successful tummy time session.
 

Fast forward a few years and I found that, with a preschooler to keep after, my schedules were harder to stick to with the second baby, including my regimented tummy time.  While having coffee with a friend and a recent new mom to her second child, she asked how I found time for things like tummy time with my second.

 

Well, I had found a way to get in tummy time and of course the idea came from my mom.  I mean, mother knows best right?  After I lamented to her that the baby wasn’t getting enough tummy time because I couldn’t figure out how to fit in the longer sessions, she suggested that every time I do a diaper changes, I just flip the baby over for a few minutes on her tummy.  So after 6 or 7 or 8 or 10 diaper changes in a day, each few minutes adds up to plenty of total time.  I also found that if I put her on her tummy in her crib while I went to wash my hands, I could rack up a few more minutes.  By not being so concerned with the exact right way to do something, she was actually getting more time on her tummy and I was less worried.
 

My friend said, “That’s brilliant!  You should write a blog post about that”
 

So I did.

Happy Independence Day!

For most people 4th of July involves some fun in the sun!  Have you checked out the Environmental Working Group’s website for tips on sun and sunscreen safety?  They recently published their 2011 sunscreen guide and of the hundreds of sunscreens they tested, they only recommended about 1 in 5 as safe and effective!  Thankfully, the brand I use on Brady was rated highly, but the kind my husband and I use was one of the worst, despite bearing a ‘natural’ name.

So before you head out to the parade on Monday, see if your sunscreen stacks up and read their tips below for general sun safety!

Have Fun!

The following information is taken directly from the Environmental Working Group’s website, please visit them for more information and to see how your sunblock rates in their 2011 sunscreen guide.

The original article can be found here:


1. Quick tips for a good sunscreen.

Ingredients matter – learn if your brand leaves you overexposed to damaging UVA rays, if it breaks down in the sun, or if it contains potential hormone-disrupting compounds. Avoid Oxybenzone, Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) and added insect repellant.

2. But first things first – do these before applying sunscreen.

The best defenses against getting too much harmful UV radiation are protective clothes, shade and timing. Check out the checklist:

 

  • Don’t get burned. Red, sore, blistered (then peeling) skin is a clear sign you’ve gotten far too much sun. Sunburn increases skin cancer risk – keep your guard up!
  • Wear clothes. Shirts, hats, shorts and pants shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays – and don’t coat your skin with goop. A long-sleeved surf shirt is a good start.
  • Find shade – or make it. Picnic under a tree, read beneath an umbrella, take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade – they lack tanning pigments (melanin) to protect their skin.
  • Plan around the sun. If your schedule is flexible, go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. UV radiation peaks at midday, when the sun is directly overhead.
  • Sunglasses are essential. Not just a fashion accessory, sunglasses protect your eyes from UV radiation, a cause of cataracts.

3. Now put on sunscreen – here are the essentials, beyond the quick tips.

Some sunscreens prevent sunburn but not other types of skin damage. Make sure yours provides broad-spectrum protection and follow our other tips for better protection.

 

  • Don’t be fooled by a label that boasts of high SPF. Anything higher than “SPF 50+” can tempt you to stay in the sun too long, suppressing sunburn but not other kinds of skin damage. FDA says these numbers are misleading. Stick to SPF 15-50+, reapply often and pick a product based on your own skin, time planned outside, shade and cloud cover.
  • News about Vitamin A. Eating vitamin A-laden vegetables is good for you, but spreading vitamin A on the skin may not be. New government data show that tumors and lesions develop sooner on skin coated with vitamin A-laced creams. Vitamin A, listed as “retinyl palmitate” on the ingredient label, is in 33 percent of sunscreens. Avoid them.
  • Ingredients matter. Avoid the sunscreen chemical oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen that penetrates the skin and contaminates the body. Look for active ingredients zinc, titanium, avobenzone or Mexoryl SX. These substances protect skin from harmful UVA radiation and remain on the skin, with little if any penetrating into the body. Also, skip sunscreens with insect repellent – if you need bug spray, buy it separately and apply it first.
  • Pick a good sunscreen. EWG’s sunscreen database rates the safety and efficacy of about 1,700 products with SPF, including about 600 sunscreens for beach and sports. We give high ratings to brands that provide broad-spectrum, long-lasting protection with ingredients that pose fewer health concerns when the body absorbs them.
  • Cream, spray or powder – and how often? Sprays and powders cloud the air with tiny particles of sunscreen that may not be safe to breathe. Choose creams instead. Reapply them often, because sunscreen chemicals break apart in the sun, wash off and rub off on towels and clothing.
  • Message for men: Wear sunscreen. Surveys show that 34 percent of men wear sunscreen, compared to 78 percent of women. Start using it now to reduce your cumulative lifetime exposure to damaging UV radiation.
  • Got your Vitamin D? Many people don’t get enough vitamin D, which skin manufactures in the presence of sunlight. Your doctor can test your level and recommend supplements or a few minutes of sun daily on your bare skin (without sunscreen).

4. Sun Safety Tips For Kids

Kids are more vulnerable to sun damage. A few blistering sunburns in childhood can double a person’s lifetime chances of developing serious forms of skin cancer. The best sunscreen is a hat and shirt. After that, protect kids with a sunscreen that’s effective and safe. Take these special precautions with infants and children:

 

Infants

Infants under 6 months should be kept out of direct sun as much as possible. Their skin is not yet protected by melanin. So when you take your baby outside:

  • Cover up – Wear protective clothing, tightly woven but loose-fitting, and a sun hat.
  • Make shade – Use the stroller’s canopy or hood. If you can’t sit in a shady spot, put up an umbrella.
  • Avoid midday sun – Take walks in the early morning or late afternoon.
  • Follow product warnings for sunscreen on infants under 6 months old – Most manufacturers advise against using sunscreens on infants or urge parents and caregivers to consult a doctor first. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that small amounts of sunscreen can be used on infants as a last resort when shade can’t be found.

Toddlers and Children

Sunscreen plays an essential part of any day in the sun. However, young children’s skin is especially sensitive to chemical allergens as well as the sun’s UV rays. When choosing a sunscreen, keep these tips in mind:

  • Test the sunscreen by applying a small amount on the inside of your child’s wrist the day before you plan to use it. If an irritation or rash develops, try another product. Ask your child’s doctor to suggest a product less likely to irritate a child’s skin.
  • Slop on sunscreen and reapply often, especially if your child is playing in the water or sweating a lot.
  • Choose your own sunscreen for daycare and school. Some childcare facilities provide sunscreen for the kids, but you can bring your own if you prefer a safer, more effective brand. Share EWG’s safe sunscreen tips and product suggestions with your child’s caregiver.

 

Sun Safety at School

Sometimes school and daycare policies interfere with children’s sun safety. Many schools treat sunscreen as a medicine and require the child have written permission to use it. Some insist that the school nurse apply it. Other schools ban hats and sunglasses on campus. Here are a few questions to ask your school:

  • What is the policy on sun safety?
  • Is there shade on the playground?
  • Are outdoor activities scheduled to avoid midday sun?

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