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YOUR MONEY / YOUR HEALTH

Keep summer safe without spending a mint

July 06, 2009|Francesca Lunzer Kritz

Bicycle helmets are just the beginning. Here's more summer safety -- and money-saving -- information.

Sunscreen

Even a single burn in childhood poses a risk for skin cancer later -- so use sunscreen. As long as the package states that the product protects against both UVA and UVB rays, a store-brand version is likely to be just as effective as expensive, advertised brands, says Dr. Jenny Kim, associate professor of medicine and dermatology at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine.

Your physician or clinic may have free samples, and during the summer chain drug stores such as Walgreen's and RiteAid have a sunscreen on sale most weeks.

Look for sunscreen coupons by putting the brand name into an online search engine. A recent check found that Coppertone had a coupon for $5 off and Banana Boat offered a coupon good for $2 off. Combine with sales at stores for bigger savings and check internetdrugcoupons.com for more deals. No printer at home? Call the 800 number on sunscreen tubes and ask if coupons can be sent by mail.

Further, sunscreen with a sun-protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher often is a reimbursable expense under most flexible spending accounts -- meaning that if your company lets you tuck aside some tax-free money for medical expenses, you may be able to be reimbursed for many sunscreen purchases.

Swimming safety

Check with city pools to see if there are spaces left for free kids' swimming lessons. Registration for the lessons, provided by a grant from Kaiser Permanente, began a week ago, but free spots were still available recently. If the free spots are gone, lessons at city pools are usually fairly inexpensive -- $20 to $40 for 10 lessons.

To find L.A. city pools near you, call (323) 906-7953 or go to www.laparks.org and click "aquatics" on the right side of the home page. In other cities, check with the local department of parks and creation.

Lunch and snacks

Especially in this challenging economic year, kids who rely on school meal programs run the risk of going hungry this summer. Find out if a child you know, 18 or younger, is eligible for free summer meal and snack programs through the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. Access this list for sites and serving times or call (818) 546-2383. All lunches and snacks include drinks such as milk and juice.

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health@latimes.com

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