Here in Texas as we enter the dog days of summer, we’re always looking for tips to beat the heat. As the resident Momspert (Mom Expert), I have some tips on protecting your family from the harsh sun and slap-worthy bugs the warm summer weather can bring. As of mother of three small kiddos, I often wonder about all the articles I read and try to decipher which ones to take to heart and which to skip. The latest from the CDC on protecting your crew from the dangers of West Nile virus says that all repellent products should contain age restrictions. The EPA however, does not require age restrictions on all products. If there is none, EPA has not required a restriction on the use of the product. According to the label, oil of lemon eucalyptus products should not be used on children under 3. When it comes to knowing what DEET really is and how you should use it to protect your kids, you can count on this. DEET or N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide, is a chemical used in insect repellents. The amount of DEET may range from less than 10% to more than 30% from product to product. Studies show that products with higher amounts of DEET don’t necessarily protect you better but do protect you for longer periods of time. Repellents with DEET are considered to be the best defense against biting bugs. So if you’re headed to the beach this summer or any other extended outing, you may want to pack on the repellent with a higher DEET concentration. The AAP recommends however, that repellents used on kiddos should not contain more than 30% DEET and should never be used on children younger than 2 months. On the other side of this spectrum, I can enlighten you on some things that won’t work! Wristbands soaked in chemical repellents, garlic, vitamin B1 taken by mouth, ultrasonic devices that give off sound waves designed to keep insects away, bird or bat houses and backyard bug zappers don’t work. You can keep trying but bugs will keep biting. My family and I are headed to the beach in just a few short weeks, and my suitcase is already filled to the brim and sunblock is at the top of the heap. Sunblock can be tricky because there are so many options and they range in price from a little to a lot. Furthermore, the list of things to know about sunblock and sunscreen can be overwhelming. UVA/UVB or a combination of both- who knows what to buy? UVA rays are considered to be the chief contributor to wrinkles, age spots, skin sagging and melanoma – the most deadly form of skin cancer. Avobenzone, dioxybenzone, oxybenzone or sulisobenzone are chemicals that block UVA rays. UVB rays are those that damage the outer layer of the skin causing sunburns, wrinkling and skin cancer. Chemicals found in sunscreens that block UVB rays include aminobenzoic acid, cinoxate, homosalate, and octocrylene. While there is no sunscreen ingredient that protects you completely from UVA and UVB radiation, some chemicals provide a significant amount of protection for both, and you definitely want one that has an SPF of at least 30. Some other things to consider are water-resistant brands for those movers and shakers and possibly something hypoallergenic and/or fragrance free for rowdy kids with sensitive skin like mine! Among the safest and best brands are Aveeno, Banana Boat, Coppertone, Neutrogena, California Baby, Up & Up and Walgreens. There’s also the route of the all-natural sunscreen. Green parents stand by these all natural, mineral-based sunscreens and say they are effective and safe for marine life. The five top-rated products for kids and babies are Badger Balm, Trukid, California Kid, Erbaviva and Earth’s Best. These are said to be good for your child and good for the planet! As you prep your little loved ones for summer fun this year, be safe and effective. Slather on the sunscreen and have a continuous stream of spray for the bugs. We only have one chance to keep our kiddos safe. Let’s do our part! Stay tuned to the DWCP for these and other chemical updates.