Protect Your Family From Sunburn, Bug Bites and Infection This Summer.

Warm weather means not just an increase in outdoor activities but emergency room visits as well. You can protect yourself and your family for more fun in the sun. Put together a bag, to bring on outings, to help avoid unnecessary hospital visits. Essential items that should not be overlooked or underestimated include:

First Aid Kit: Untreated cuts and scrapes can get infected. Keep a topical sterilizer (e.g., triple antibiotic ointment) adhesive bandages, gauze, medical tape, alcohol wipes and an ice pack may also come in handy. Check your kit regularly to replace used items and remove expired products.

Sunblock: Melanoma skin cancer has almost tripled in the last 40 years despite all the warnings. Broad-spectrum sunscreens (SPF of 30 or higher) are recommended. Water-resistant sunscreens can be less effective so best to avoid them unless swimming. In addition, sunscreen containing insect repellent has its SPF cut by more than 30%. Good rule: apply more and more often. Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapplied generously every two hours. Over time, sunscreens lose effectiveness, so replace at the expiration date or yearly. Also note, over-the-counter pain relief medications and antihistamines decrease the efficacy of sunscreen. So, do some prescription drugs including antibiotics as well as many acne treatments containing benzoyl peroxide.

Mosquito Repellent: Contracting mosquito-borne illnesses are on the rise, especially for children and the elderly. The New England Journal of Medicine studies found bath oil (some people use as a repellent) protects less than 10 minutes. Other natural repellents such as eucalyptus oil, cactus juice, lemongrass oil, juniper, or even peppermint or vanilla, are no better. DEET works, but it is not recommended for children under age 1. Thermacell Mosquito Repellent products, are designed to create a 15x15-foot “bubble” of protection using allethrin, a synthetic copy of a natural repellent found in chrysanthemum plants, that biting pests cannot penetrate and are virtually odorless, flameless and portable.

Emergency Car Kit: Stock with hand-wipes or sanitizer, bottles of water, and hearty snacks that can take the heat, such as dried fruits, nuts and granola bars, for a quick, protein-rich snack. Other emergency items can include a couple of flares, flashlight, hats, umbrella and blanket.