Summer Tips: Boating & Beach Safety

Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise and a major component of many spring break trips and summer break fun. But parents should remember that swimming also comes with risk. Follow these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to protecting children from drowning.


  • Children should wear life jackets at all times when on boats, docks or near bodies of water.
  • Make sure the life jacket is the right size for your child. The jacket should not be loose and should always be worn as instructed with all straps belted.
  • Blow-up water wings, toys, rafts and air mattresses should not be used as life jackets or personal flotation devices. Adults should wear life jackets for their own protection, and to set a good example.
  • Adolescents and adults should be warned of the dangers of boating even as a passenger when under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and even some prescription medications.
  • Children follow your example, whenever you are on a boat – everyone, kids and adults should wear a life jacket.


  • Never swim alone. Even good swimmers need buddies!
  • A lifeguard (or another adult who knows about water rescue) needs to be watching children whenever they are in or near the water. Younger children should be closely supervised while in or near the water – use “touch supervision,” keeping no more than an arm’s length away.
  • Make sure your child knows never to dive into water except when permitted by an adult who knows the depth of the water and who has checked for underwater objects.
  • Never let your child swim in canals or any fast-moving water.
  • Ocean swimming should only be allowed when a lifeguard is on duty.
  • Teach children about rip currents. If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore until you escape the current, and then swim back to shore.
  • Be aware that pools and beaches in other countries may not have lifeguards, and pools may have unsafe drain systems. Supervise children closely.
  • At the beach, stay within the designated swimming area and ideally within the visibility of a lifeguard
  • Be aware of rip currents. If you should get caught in one, don’t try to swim against it. Swim parallel to shore until clear of the current.
  • Seek shelter in case of storm. Get out of the water. Get off the beach in case of lightning.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2018). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


Summer Tips: Pool Safety

Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise and a major component of many spring break trips and summer break fun. But parents should remember that swimming also comes with risk. Follow these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to protecting children from drowning.


  • Never leave children alone in or near the pool or spa, even for a moment; close supervision by a responsible adult is the best way to prevent drowning in children.
  • Whenever children under age 5 are in or around water, an adult – preferably one who knows how to swim and perform CPR – should be within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision.”
  • Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all four sides of the pool. The fence should not have openings or protrusions that a young child could use to get over, under, or through.
  • Make sure pool gates open out from the pool, and self-close and self-latch at a height children can’t reach. Consider alarms on the gate to alert you when someone opens the gate. Consider surface wave or underwater alarms as an added layer of protection.
  • The safest fence is one that surrounds all 4 sides of the pool and completely separates the pool from the house and yard. If the house serves as the fourth side of the fence, install an alarm on the exit door to the yard and the pool. For additional protection, install window guards on windows facing the pool. Drowning victims have also used pet doors to gain access to pools. Keep all of your barriers and alarms in good repair with fresh batteries.
  • Keep rescue equipment (a shepherd’s hook ­– a long pole with a hook on the end — and life preserver) and a portable telephone near the pool. Choose a shepherd’s hook and other rescue equipment made of fiberglass or other materials that do not conduct electricity.
  • Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties.” They are not a substitute for approved life jackets and can give children and parents a false sense of security.
  • Children over age 1 may be at a lower risk of drowning if they have had some formal swimming instruction. However, there is no evidence that swimming lessons or water survival skills courses can prevent drowning in babies younger than 1 year of age.
  • The decision to enroll a child over age one in swimming lessons should be made by the parent based on the child’s developmental readiness and exposure to water, but swim programs should never be seen as “drown proofing” a child of any age.
  • Avoid entrapment: Suction from pool and spa drains can trap a swimmer underwater. Do not use a pool or spa if there are broken or missing drain covers. Ask your pool operator if your pool or spa’s drains are compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act. If you have a swimming pool or spa, ask your pool service representative to update your drains and other suction fitting with anti-entrapment drain covers and other devices or systems. See for more information on the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.
  • Large, inflatable, above-ground pools have become increasingly popular for backyard use. Children may fall in if they lean against the soft side of an inflatable pool. Although such pools are often exempt from local pool fencing requirements, it is essential that they be surrounded by an appropriate fence just as a permanent pool would be so that children cannot gain unsupervised access.
  • If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first.
  • Share safety instructions with family, friends and neighbors.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2018). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Connecticut Trails Day 2018

Connecticut Trails Day
June 2 & 3, 2018

Did you know that Connecticut hosts the largest National Trails Day® celebration in the nation?

Get your family outside for a hike! This year, there are 250 events scheduled for June 2 & 3. You can check them out on the Connecticut Forest & Park’s: ONLINE DIRECTORY.

Trails Day events are free and have a volunteer guide. Activities include hikes, family walks, trail runs, paddles, bike rides, historical strolls and so much more!

Connecticut’s Top 10 Hiking Trails

Connecticut today is crisscrossed by hundreds of miles of hiking trails.

According to the Connecticut Office of Tourism, “these hikes run through high land and low, across difficult and easy terrain, and they offer unique insight into the geology, flora and fauna of the state. They also serve as blissful, highly satisfying getaways from the noise and crowds of daily life.” The Top 10 Hikes in the state are:

Mattabessett Trail, Meriden
Mattatuck Trail, Wolcott
Mine Hill Preserve, Roxbury
Farm River State Park, East Haven
Devil’s Den Preserve, Weston
White Memorial Conservation Center, Litchfield
Appalachian Trail River Walk, South Kent
Tunix Trail, Barkhamstead
Bigelow Hollow State Park, Union
Steep Rock, Washington

CLICK HERE for more about all of these cool places for adventure!

Heat Exposure and Reactions


There are 3 main reactions to hot environmental temperatures and heat waves:

Heatstroke or Sunstroke: Symptoms include hot, flushed skin; high fever over 105° F (40.5° C) rectally; the absence of sweating (in 50%); confusion or coma; and shock. A rectal temperature is more accurate than an oral temperature in these disorders. Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency with a high death rate if not treated promptly.

Heat Exhaustion: Symptoms include pale skin; usually no fever but can temporarily be elevated between 100 – 102° F (37.8 – 39° C); profuse sweating; nausea, dizziness, fainting, or weakness. Most of the symptoms are caused by dehydration from sweating. Because a person can progress from heat exhaustion to heat stroke, all patients with severe symptoms (e.g., fainting) need to be examined immediately. Patients with mild symptoms (e.g., dizziness or fever) who do not respond to fluid replacement and rest also need to be seen.

Heat Cramps: Severe muscle cramps in the legs (especially calf or thigh muscles) and abdomen are present. No fever. Tightness or spasms of the hands may occur.


  • All 3 reactions are caused by exposure to high temperatures often with high humidity.
  • Exercising or other vigorous activity/labor during hot weather can cause heat production to exceed heat loss.
  • Poor hydration interferes with sweating and increases the risk of heat reactions.
  • Infants are at added risk because they are less able to sweat with heat stress. So are children who are vacationing in a hot climate and who have not acclimatized. The first heat wave of the summer can cause similar problems. It takes 8 to 10 days for you to become used to high summer temperatures.
  • Heat stroke (a breakdown in the temperature-regulating mechanism) usually follows exposure to a very high environmental temperature (e.g. trapped inside a hot car, steam tents, crib near a radiator or indoors during bad heat waves without air-conditioning).

First Aid For Heatstroke Or Sunstroke

  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Cool the child off as rapidly as possible while awaiting EMS arrival.
  • Move him to a cool shady place or air-conditioned room.
  • Sponge the entire body surface with cool water (as cool as tolerated without causing shivering). Fan the child to increase evaporation.
  • Keep the feet elevated to counteract shock.
  • If the child is awake, give as much cold water to drink as he or she can tolerate.
  • Fever medicines are of no value for heat stroke.

First Aid For Heat Exhaustion

  • Put the child in a cool place. Have him lie down with the feet elevated.
  • Undress him (except for underwear) so the body surface can give off heat.
  • Sponge the entire body surface continuously with cool water (as cool as tolerated without causing shivering). Fan the child to increase heat loss from evaporation.
  • Give as much cold water to drink as the child can tolerate until he or she feels better.
  • For severe symptoms, drive the child in to be seen.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. Clinical content review provided by Senior Reviewer and Healthpoint Medical Network.
Last Review Date: 8/7/2011
Last Revised: 8/11/2011 3:30:44 PM
Version Year: 2012
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Summer Family Fun


Are you looking for some fun things to do with your family this summer? The Connecticut Office of Tourism has a great website with all sorts of things to do. Check out 52 different types of get-aways including hiking trails, waterfalls, art museums, scenic drives, historic locations, fairs and festivals, and much more. In addition to a calendar of events and an interactive map, the site includes an extensive list of family activities where you can find out about these great local destinations:

Beardsley Zoo
Connecticut Science Center
Dinosaur State park
Discovery Museum
Lake Compounce
Lime Rock Park
Mystic Aquarium
Ocean Beach Park
Roaring Book Nature Center
Shoreline Trolley Museum
State Parks
UConn Dairy Bar
Yale Peabody Museum

And that’s just to name a few!

Check it out. CLICK HERE to learn more about family fun right here in Connecticut!

Bicycle Helmets: What Every Parent Should Know


How can I tell if a helmet will keep my child safe?
You should only buy a helmet that meets the bicycle helmet safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Any helmet meeting these standards is labeled. Check the inside.

Do all helmets meet these standards?
All helmets manufactured or imported for use after March 1999 must comply with a mandatory safety standard issued by the CPSC.

Can other kinds of helmets be used for bicycling?
Each type of helmet is designed for protection in specific conditions and may not offer enough protection in bike crashes or falls. Bike helmets are very protective in head-first falls at fairly high speeds, and are light and well ventilated for comfort and acceptability. A multisport helmet, certified to meet the CPSC standard for bicycle helmets, also is acceptable.

Where can I get a helmet?
Helmets meeting CPSC safety standards are available at bicycle shops and at some discount, department, and toy stores in adult, children, and toddler’s sizes and styles. Do not resell, donate, or buy a used bike helmet because it may be too old to provide protection or may have been in a crash.

Which is better, hard-shell or soft-shell helmets?
The essential part of the helmet for impact protection is a thick layer of firm polystyrene, plastic foam, that crushes on impact, absorbing the force of the blow. All helmets require a chin strap to keep them in place in a crash.

Hard-shell helmets also have a hard outer shell of plastic or fiberglass that provides a shield against penetration by sharp objects and holds the polystyrene together if it cracks in a fall or crash. These helmets are more sturdy, but tend to be heavier and warmer than the soft-shell models.

Soft-shell helmets have no hard outer shell but are made of an extra-thick layer of polystyrene covered with a cloth cover or surface coating. The cloth cover is an essential part of many soft-shell helmets. If the helmet comes with a cover, the cover must always be worn to hold the helmet together if the polystyrene cracks on impact.

Both types of helmets meet CPSC standards; the main difference is style and comfort. The soft-shell helmets are lighter than the hard shell versions but may be less durable.

Although there is no consensus on the relative safety of the 2 types, models of both types have passed the CPSC test. The soft-shell helmets are lighter than the hard-shell versions but may be less durable.

How should a helmet fit?
A helmet should be worn squarely on top of the head, covering the top of the forehead. If it is tipped back, it will not protect the forehead. The helmet fits well if it doesn’t move around on the head or slide down over the wearer’s eyes when pushed or pulled. The chin strap should be adjusted to fit snugly.

Are there helmets for infants?
Yes. Many infant-sized helmets are of the soft-shell variety. They are light, an important consideration for small children whose necks may not be strong enough to comfortably hold a hard-shell helmet. Babies younger than 1 year have relatively weak neck structure. Neither helmets nor bike traveling is recommended for them.

How long will a child’s helmet fit?
An infant’s or child’s helmet should fit for several years. Most models have removable fitting pads that can be replaced with thinner ones as the child’s head grows.

Can a helmet be reused after a crash?
In general, a helmet that has been through a serious fall or crash should be retired with gratitude. It has served its purpose and may not provide adequate protection in another crash. If you are uncertain whether the helmet is still usable, throw it away.

Last Updated 5/14/2015. Source TIPP: The Injury Prevention Program (Copyright © 1994 American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 9/2005, Reaffirmed 10/12). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Insect Repellents


Mosquitoes, biting flies, and tick bites can make children miserable. While most children have only mild reactions to insect bites, some children can become very sick. One way to protect your child from biting insects is to use insect repellents. However, it’s important that insect repellents are used safely and correctly. Read on for more information from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about types of repellents, DEET, using repellents safely, and other ways to protect your child from insect bites.

Insect repellents come in many forms, including aerosols, sprays, liquids, creams, and sticks. Some are made from chemicals and some have natural ingredients. Insect repellents prevent bites from biting insects but not stinging insects. Biting insects include mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, chiggers, and biting flies. Stinging insects include bees, hornets, and wasps.


The following types of products are not effective repellents:

  • Wristbands soaked in chemical repellents
  • Garlic or vitamin B1 taken by mouth
  • Ultrasonic devices that give off sound waves designed to keep insects away
  • Bird or bat houses
  • Backyard bug zappers (Insects may actually be attracted to your yard.)

DEET is a chemical used in insect repellents. The amount of DEET in insect repellents varies from product to product, so it’s important to read the label of any product you use. The amount of DEET may range from less than 10% to more than 30%. DEET greater than 30% doesn’t offer any additional protection.

Studies show that products with higher amounts of DEET protect people longer. For example, products with amounts around 10% may repel pests for about 2 hours, while products with amounts of about 24% last an average of 5 hours. But studies also show that products with amounts of DEET greater than 30% don’t offer any extra protection.

The AAP recommends that repellents should contain no more than 30% DEET when used on children. Insect repellents also are not recommended for children younger than 2 months.



  • Read the label and follow all directions and precautions.
  • Only apply insect repellents on the outside of your child’s clothing and on exposed skin. Note: Permethrin-containing products should not be applied to skin.
  • Spray repellents in open areas to avoid breathing them in.
  • Use just enough repellent to cover your child’s clothing and exposed skin. Using more doesn’t make the repellent more effective. Avoid reapplying unless needed.
  • Help apply insect repellent on young children. Supervise older children when using these products.
  • Wash your children’s skin with soap and water to remove any repellent when they return indoors, and wash their clothing before they wear it again.


  • Never apply insect repellent to children younger than 2 months.
  • Never spray insect repellent directly onto your child’s face. Instead, spray a little on your hands first and then rub it on your child’s face. Avoid the eyes and mouth.
  • Do not spray insect repellent on cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
  • Do not use products that combine DEET with sunscreen. The DEET may make the sun protection factor (SPF) less effective. These products can overexpose your child to DEET because the sunscreen needs to be reapplied often.

If you suspect that your child is having a reaction, such as a rash, to an insect repellent, stop using the product and wash your child’s skin with soap and water. Then call Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222 or your child’s doctor for help. If you go to your child’s doctor’s office, take the repellent container with you.

While you can’t prevent all insect bites, you can reduce the number your child receives by following these guidelines:

  • Tell your child to avoid areas that attract flying insects, such as garbage cans, stagnant pools of water, and flowerbeds or orchards.
  • Dress your child in long pants, a lightweight long-sleeved shirt, socks, and closed shoes when you know your child will be exposed to insects. A broad-brimmed hat can help to keep insects away from the face. Mosquito netting may be used over baby carriers or strollers in areas where your baby may be exposed to insects.
  • Avoid dressing your child in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints because they seem to attract insects.
  • Don’t use scented soaps, perfumes, or hair sprays on your child because they may attract insects.
  • Keep door and window screens in good repair.
  • Check your child’s skin at the end of the day if you live in an area where ticks are present and your child has been playing outdoors.
  • Remember that the most effective repellent for ticks is permethrin. It should not be applied to skin but on your child’s clothing.

Source A Parent’s Guide to Insect Repellents (Copyright © 2009 American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 6/2012). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Connecticut Trails Weekend


CT Trails Weekend
Saturday, June 6
& Sunday, June 7

This weekend is Connecticut Trails Weekend. On Saturday, June 6 and Sunday, June 7, organizations around the state are hosting hikes, educational walks, trail runs, bike rides, horseback rides, water trail paddles, letterboxing, trail work parties and more. It’s a great chance for you and your family to get out and enjoy all that our beautiful state has to offer!

Connecticut Trails Days is part of National Trails Day, and is the largest celebration of its kind in the country. Coordinated by the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, this statewide event is a unique collaboration of towns, parks, land trusts, nature centers, historic attractions, and others.

CLICK HERE to see a map and directory of events!

(Photo courtesy of the Branford Land Trust)

From Motor Skills to Sports Skills


Children in the 2- to 5-year-old age group get their motivation and develop motor skills from self-play behaviors. Active games and play in the backyard, with friends at the park, or in heavily padded rooms can provide great sources of exercise in addition to nurturing that important relationship between parent and child.

Toddlers and preschoolers spend a lot of time just trying to master basic fundamental skills such as running, skipping, kicking, jumping, hopping, catching, and throwing. Kids acquire most of these skills by early elementary school.

Adults may not be able to understand that these activities really do take some effort for children. Much of the maturation process of controlling movement in children involves being able to move in different ways without falling over. Obviously, mastering those basic skills is a fundamental step children have to complete before they can proceed much further.

Infants may rely mostly on visual and oral information, but toddlers move away from the mouth being Command Central. They begin to process signals and cues from their brains and inner ears that may even cause a temporary decrease in their ability to maintain good balance as they approach their fourth or fifth birthdays.

Children can become overloaded with these signals while walking or running, and they must concentrate just to stay upright. Putting all of their attention into balance control may temporarily interfere with their ability to improve performance in other skills if there are other variables in the environment, such as many other players or uneven playing surfaces. Certainly with time, the act of jumping up and down and running around becomes easier without requiring as much focus to stay vertical.

If we could see what is going on in the minds of some young children, it might be very educational. While adults are yelling, “Get the ball! Get the ball!” the child may be thinking, “Don’t fall down! Don’t fall down!” That is why early soccer teams have been referred to as beehive soccer — many players simply swarm and follow the ball just trying to kick it, much to the dismay of the coach, who realizes that none of them are following the instructions of the detailed play outlined just moments before.

There is obviously a wide range of abilities in this age group, but relatively few children are really talented at these basic skills. It has been found that fewer than one third of 2- to 5-year-olds are truly effective at throwing and catching.

Author Paul R. Stricker, MD, FAAP. Last Updated 1/2/2014. Source Sports Success Rx! Your Child’s Prescription for the Best Experience (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski. CreativeCommons License.