Summer Sun and Water Safety

By Meghan Benak, MD - Dothan Pediatric Clinic

One of the many benefits of living in the Wiregrass area is its proximity to some of the most beautiful beaches, stunning lakes, and outdoor activities.

When I grew up as an adolescent in Dothan, I spent many of my summers working as a lifeguard and water safety instructor teaching swimming lessons. Sun protection and water safety were an important part of my summer job. Now as a practicing pediatrician at Dothan Pediatric Clinic, I continue to observe the importance of sun and water safety in the lives of my patients and their families.

Everyone can be affected by the harmful effects of too much sunlight. When enjoying time in the sun’s rays, keep in mind that the best defense is seeking shade as much as possible. The peak intensity of the sun is between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Infants should be kept out of the sunlight, and families should seek shady areas for them.

Select sun-protective clothing that can keep you and your family cool while offering protection from the sun. When choosing a sunscreen, select sunscreens that are broad spectrum, water resistant, offer protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, and have sun protection factor (SPF) thirty or higher. When applying sunscreen, be sure to include all areas that are not covered and may be exposed to the sun. Plan the application of sunscreen fifteen to thirty minutes prior to enjoying time in the sun. Remember that reapplication of sunscreen is necessary every two hours and after exposure to the water.

Now as a practicing pediatrician at Dothan Pediatric Clinic, I continue to observe the importance of sun and water safety in the lives of my patients and their families.

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The warm temperatures of summer also bring about more time in the water. Swimming is an important skill that all members of the family should make a priority to learn. Always keep close supervision when your child is in or nearby a pool or body of water. Non-swimmers should always be within reach. Remember that swim aids are not a replacement for close supervision. Teach your children good habits near water including never swimming without an adult present and always asking if it is safe to swim before entering a body of water.

When visiting fun vacation spots with pool access, check for water hazards. Pools should be enclosed by a fence on all sides with a gate that a child cannot access. Don’t forget to empty wading pools or backyard pool inflatables after use when enjoying backyard water activities. Children on boats or docks should wear a life jacket that fits properly.

While safely preparing for a vacation or day trip to a sunny spot may seem like quite the task, the memories made with your family will be forever.

Meghan Benak
Author: Meghan Benak

Dr. Meghan Benak was born in Birmingham, Alabama and raised in Dothan, Alabama. She graduated summa cum laude from the Auburn University, Auburn, with a Bachelor of Science degree, Biomedical Sciences, with Minors in both Business and Spanish, 2010. Dr. Benak earned her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of South Alabama, College of Medicine, 2016, and completed her three-year Pediatric Residency program at Louisiana State University, Children’s Hospital New Orleans, 2019. She joined Dothan Pediatric Healthcare Network as a pediatrician at Dothan Pediatric Clinic in November 2019. Dr. Benak is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. She is a proud member of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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Summer Sun and Water Safety

by Meghan Benak time to read: 3 min