Ahh, summer is here! Which means it’s time to fire up the grill, get out the pool and beach toys, and have a fun-filled few months with your family. But before you kick up your flip flops and relax, remember you’ll want to be vigilant about potential safety issues that come with the season.
Fun in the sun can be as simple as a day in your backyard: playing in the sun, swimming in the pool, or going for a bike ride. But threats to your child’s safety don’t lurk far from your backdoor.
Follow the safety tips in these seven areas to keep your family healthy and happy this summer.
- Water safety
Most likely, you’ll be spending some time this summer at the beach, lake, or pool. The first rule of water safety is to pay attention constantly. Don’t let distractions like cell phones, or conversations with other parents, get in the way of watching your children as they play in or near the water.
If you have a backyard swimming pool, surround it with a fence at least four feet high. Consider an alarm system for the pool, so you’ll know if a child makes his or her way into it unsupervised. If you have a kiddie pool, empty it after each use. Also remember to teach kids about water safety, and to never enter a pool or body of water unattended.
While cases of it are fairly rare, also keep your eyes out for the signs of “dry drowning.” Dry drowning is when a small amount of water enters the nose or mouth and causes an airway spasm, making the airway close. It usually happens soon after coming out of the water, unlike active drowning, which happens in the water.
Watch your child after exiting the water for coughing, rapid shallow breathing, sleepiness, forgetfulness, and throwing up. If you think your child is exhibiting the signs of dry drowning, contact your pediatrician right away. Or, if your child is really having a hard time breathing, call 911.
- Fun in the sun
Escaping the summer sun is nearly impossible, but you can protect your family from its harmful rays. Even on cloudy or overcast days, UV rays penetrate the clouds and can cause sunburn. The sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so build in some indoor craft time or play games in the shade when the sun is at its peak.
Sunscreen should be applied 15 minutes before going out in the sun, and remember to reapply every two hours. If the kids are spending time in the water, use a waterproof sunscreen. And note that sunscreen needs to be reapplied sooner when exposed to water, usually after 80 minutes, and also when the kids come out of the water.
Clothing can also be a good sun-protector. Consider the UV-blocking swim shirts for your little ones. Sun hats with brims are also a good idea. Seeking out shady areas, or creating your own with a sun tent or umbrella is also advisable.
- Bugs and plants to avoid
Going for a nature walk? Protect your children from bug bites by using a repellant in spray, lotion, or stick form. Read the labels to find out which chemicals are used. Take caution when using DEET bug repellants on kids.
If you’re spending time in the woods, instruct children to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts. This can prevent mosquito bites, and also ward off ticks. Tuck your child’s pants into his or her socks, and avoid wearing white—the color ticks are most attracted to.
Give kids a lesson on what poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak look like. Show them how to identify such plants, and make it a game to see if they can spot and avoid the poisonous plants.
- Fires and fireworks safety
It wouldn’t be summer without gathering the kids around a campfire to roast marshmallows and make s’mores. Whether you’re in your backyard, or on a camping trip, make sure to never leave a fire unattended.
Have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby, and make sure an adult is always present. It’s a good idea to draw a line around the fire, telling kids they must stay outside the boundary.
If you plan to set off fireworks, make sure kids are far away, and instruct them never to pick up a firecracker dud. Sparklers can also cause serious burns, so keep them out of the hands of younger children who lack coordination.
- Playground rules to note
If the jungle gym is calling your little one’s name, keep a few playground safety tips in mind. Always supervise your children at the playground, and teach kids how to behave appropriately: no pushing or crowding other children.
Also dress children appropriately for the playground. Beware of loose clothing, necklaces or other jewelry, or scarves and drawstrings which can get caught or pose a strangulation hazard.
- Bikes, scooters, skateboards: on the move
Helmets should always be worn by children 18 and under when on a bike, scooter, or skateboard. Make sure the helmet fits correctly, and isn’t too loose that it slips over the forehead or back of the head.
Instruct children to stay on bike paths, sidewalks, or to ride single file in the direction of traffic. When crossing the street, kids should do so at crosswalks, and always after checking for cars and pedestrians.
- Health in the heat
Dehydration can be a real problem with children who don’t always realize they need to replenish the fluids they’ve lost through sweating and going to the bathroom. Watch for the signs of dehydration in children including irritability, headache, dizziness, cramps, thirst, or even the chills.
On those dog days of summer, limit outdoor activities during peak hours of sun (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Dress children in cool, loose clothing, and seek out shade or air conditioning to cool off. Provide children with plenty of fluids and cool off in a pool or sprinkler.
Want more information on how to keep kids safe this summer? Read more about how to keep children safe when they are home alone.
Article Photo By: Travis Swan, July 7, 2015 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.
In-Copy Photo By: Thomas Quine, July 7, 2015 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.