While there are plenty of occasions for fun in the sun during the summer months, it’s also important to keep safety on the agenda — particularly when kids are involved. Let’s count down eight of our top summer safety tips for kids.
- Get in the Swim
From pools to lakes to oceans, water-related activities offer many benefits. However, with drownings as the leading cause of injury-related death for kids between the ages of one and four, the importance of water safety cannot be overstated. Kids should be supervised at all times by a responsible adult when in and around the water. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “touch supervision” in which you are always within arm’s length of the swimming child. Formal swimming lessons are a valuable protective measure.
Additionally, because there’s no such thing as being “drown proof” — even among strong swimmers — commit to learning life-saving CPR skills.
- Beat the Heat
Children under the age of four are at increased risk for heat-related illness because their bodies’ temperature control systems don’t function as well as those of adults. Prevention is the best line of defense against heat-related illnesses. Dress kids in light-colored, loose-fitting clothes, stay inside during peak heat hours, and never leave kids (or pets!) in parked cars.
If your child exhibits signs of heat-related exhaustion — such as increased thirst, fatigue, muscle cramping, weakness, headache, nausea, fainting, clammy skin, irritability, or elevated body temperature — contact your child’s healthcare provider.
And don’t underestimate the importance of hydration. Waiting until your child says she’s thirsty to offer a drink is too late. Instead, keep dehydration at bay by regularly offering fluids.
- Practice Sun Safety
Because peak sun hours are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., avoid sun exposure during these hours. Sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats are a must, as is sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply liberally at least 30 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply frequently — when swimming or sweating excessively.
Remember: even just a few childhood sunburns can significantly increase the risk of skin cancer in adulthood so keep sensitive young skin covered up every time you go outside.
- Bug Off
Bugs aren’t just annoying, they transmit dangerous diseases, such as Lyme disease, West Nile virus, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Check kids and pets regularly for ticks, use tick/insect repellent, and wear protective clothing, including long pants and long sleeves. Keeping your lawn tidy, removing standing water sources, and avoiding overgrown areas further reduces your risk.
Also, learn the symptoms of tick-borne illness, which include body/muscle aches, fever, headaches, fatigue, joint pain, rash, stiff neck, and facial paralysis. Prompt diagnosis and treatment lead to best outcomes so be sure to call your child’s doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.
5. Get A-HEAD of the Game
Playground injuries are responsible for more than 200,000 emergency room visits annually for kids under the age of 15. Avoid taking unnecessary risks by seeking out play surface which are soft and well-maintained.
Concussions, in particularly, are a threat. Take preventative action by making sure kids are wearing the right protective equipment. Properly fitting helmets are a critical part of bicycle, skateboard, scooter, and ATV safety. Help your child develop a healthy helmet habit by always insisting that one be worn — not matter where he is riding. After all, accidents can happen in your driveway just as easily as they can happen on the street. Teach by example by wearing a helmet when you ride, too.
- Be a Grill Master
More than 60,000 people are hospitalized every year due to burn injuries — many of which are caused by cooking injuries and involve kids. Barbecue grills are a significant threat as it’s easy to forget that they remain hot even when not in use. Keep your kids away from the girl at all times.
Improperly cooked food also poses a threat so make sure to check internal temperatures of foods before serving, and avoid leaving spoilable foods out for extended periods of time.
- Go For the (Fire)Works
Summer and fireworks go together like graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate, but unfortunately fireworks can also be a significant hazard. Instead of setting off your own fireworks at home, seek out professionally run community firework displays.
And keep in mind that even “safe” fireworks like sparklers can cause everything from burns to blindness, so should be used only with adult supervision. Just how dangerous are fireworks to kids? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends against their public sale.
- Lay Down the Lawn Mowing Safety
Approximately 17,000 young children and teens are treated for lawn mower-related injuries every year, according to the AAP. Lawn mowers aren’t toys: they’re dangerous pieces of machinery. Riding mowers should be used only by people over the age of 16. Children under the age of 12, meanwhile, should use either ride-on or walk-behind mowers. Children should not be permitted to ride as passengers on mowers, and should be kept out of the area where mowing is occurring. If they are in the vicinity of a running lawnmower, protective eyewear is a must.
Also, remove all potential flying objects from your lawn before you begin mowing, and avoid riding in reverse except when absolutely necessary. if you do need to mow backwards, be sure the area is clear of children.
While trips to the beach, barbecues, and many other types of summer fun are ahead, these safety measures can help you keep your family happy and healthy throughout the season and well into the school year.