Summer is the favorite time of year for many children. The long, fun-filled days are a welcome break from the routine and demands of school. Instead of lessons and recess, kids can enjoy swimming, outdoor activities, picnics, and family vacations. But the lazy days of summer also expose children to increased physical risks. Drowning, heat exhaustion, and dehydration are just a few of the dangers they face.
Here are some safety tips to help keep your kids safe at home, while away at camp, or on the road with the family.
Heat cramps and heat exhaustion can be forerunners of heat stroke, which can be life-threatening for children. Don’t let your child become overheated.
- Enjoy outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or evening.
- Choose clothing that is light-weight and loose fitting. Moisture-wicking fabric is a bonus!
- Look for shade, whether from trees, a beach umbrella, or manmade structures.
- Take frequent water and rest breaks.
- Watch for symptoms of overheating.
The American Academy of Pediatrics provides advice on how to avoid excessive sun exposure and sunburn.
- Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF (sun protection factor) of 30.
- Wear a hat with a 3-inch brim to protect the face, ears, and back of the neck.
- Consider purchasing sun protective clothing with a high UPF (ultraviolet protection factor).
- Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight.
- Limit exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV rays are strongest.
Whether your kids are swimming in your backyard pool or enjoying the community pool, water safety is a top priority. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children in the U.S. between ages 1 and 4.
- Actively supervise children when they are in or around water. Designate a Water Watcher.
- Enroll your child in a local swim class and regularly assess their skill level.
- Use a S. Coast Guard approved personal floatation device for all children who cannot swim.
- Stock or locate rescue equipment such as noodles, safety rings, and rope.
- Install alarms on doors and gates and use underwater alarms that detect entry into the water.
On The Water
Boating can be a fun experience for the whole family. Make sure you and your family are prepared by making safety a top priority.
- Enroll in a boating safety course for a foundation of operational and safety instruction.
- Make sure everyone on board is wearing a U.S. Coast Guard approved floatation device.
- Never drink alcohol while boating – most accidents occur when the driver has been drinking.
- Establish rules upfront and actively supervise all children on board.
- Make sure your cell phone is fully charged before heading out on the water.
Warm weather provides a welcome environment for problems and pests, too. From bug bites to poisonous plants, you need to guard your kids from the danger and discomfort of skin irritants.
- Avoid using heavily scented soaps and lotions if spending time outdoors.
- Apply repellent that is effective in preventing bites from insects commonly found in your area.
- Cover arms and legs with clothing as much as possible.
- Find out which poisonous plants grow in your area and teach your family to avoid them.
- Learn how to treat an allergic rash and when to seek medical help.
Safety On Wheels
Whether the whole family is hitting the road for a vacation, or your child is taking a spin around the neighborhood on a bike, these simple tips can help keep the journey pleasant.
- Make sure each child’s car seat is properly fitted. Check often – they grow fast!
- Set the example by always wearing your safety belt in the vehicle.
- Never leave a child in the car unattended.
- Check the size of your child’s bicycle and helmet often and replace when needed.
- Teach your kids about bicycle safety and ride with them as much as possible.
The playground can provide hours of healthy exploration, imaginative play, and physical exercise. Keep these tips in mind to help prevent an unexpected visit to the ER.
- Locate the proper equipment for your child’s age. Is there a separate toddler area?
- Inspect the equipment when you arrive to make sure it’s in good condition.
- Touch the equipment to see if it has been heated by the sun. This will help avoid nasty burns.
- Try to avoid playgrounds with dirt, asphalt, or gravel surfaces.
- Actively supervise your children while they are at play.
One final note – fireworks aren’t just for the Fourth of July holiday anymore. They are used for a variety of celebrations throughout the year. Over 10,000 people are treated each year for firework injuries, and nearly a third of these are children under the age of 15. Learn how to keep your child safe around fireworks.
Opportunities abound for making memories with your kids this summer. Stay informed about these topics and make this year’s memories happy ones!