The final school bell has rung, the pencils and notebooks are packed away and the kids are ready for some summer fun! Children love the hot summer months, because they provide the perfect opportunity to spend lots of time outside. Whether it’s swimming in the pool, hiking through the woods, taking long walks, or going for a bike ride, there is something for everyone, no matter how young or old.
We hope that everyone enjoys this special time of year, but we want to also remind parents that there are potential dangers during the summer months, and it’s important to be aware of what they are. The more information one learns about how to prevent illnesses and injuries, the less likely they will occur.
Following is a helpful list of tips to keep your family safe all summer long.
Beat the Heat
Whether you’re working or playing outside in the summer, anybody not accustomed to the heat is at risk for a heat-related illness. Take steps to protect yourself:
✓ Wear appropriate clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat
✓ Take frequent water breaks
✓ Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15
✓ Never leave kids or pets unattended in a vehicle
More than one in five drowning victims are children 14-years-old and younger, and most incidents happen when a child falls into a pool or is left alone in the bathtub. Keep your kids safe in the water: Adult supervision is of paramount importance. Parents need to focus on their children 100% of the time. No distractions!
✓ Never leave your child unattended. Practice “touch supervision” (a term used by the American Academy of Pediatrics). This means that at all times, the supervising adult is within an arm’s length of the child being watched, when near or in the water.
✓ Remember, no child or adult is “drown proof.”
✓ Keep in mind that children can drown in many different water sources including: bathtubs, toilets, buckets, baby pools, backyard swimming pools, community pools, streams, creeks, lakes, rivers, oceans and other places.
✓ Enroll children over the age of three in swimming lessons
✓ Don’t rely on lifeguards to watch over your children
Practice Firework Safety
Fourth of July is one of the biggest events of the summer—but it can bring an increase in injuries. In 2010, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires, including 1,100 structure fires.
Ticks are responsible for a variety of illnesses including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. These diseases can be very serious. Learn ways to protect your family. Some suggestions include:
✓ Protective clothing (long sleeves, long pants, tucking pants into socks)
✓ Tick/bug repellant
✓ Insect repellant for pets
✓ Staying in the center of paths, keeping away from overgrown areas and not sitting directly on the ground
✓ Performing tick checks on all family members every day
✓ Being aware of signs/symptoms of tick-related illnesses
✓ Calling the doctor for any concerns and questions
An appropriate helmet must be worn whenever a child is “on wheels.” This means bicycles, scooters, skates, rollerblades, skateboards and more!
✓ The helmet must fit properly.
✓ Helmets can be life saving and can protect a child from serious injury.
✓ Be sure the right type of helmet is being used. For example, a bike helmet needs to be used for biking.
✓ Moms and dads should wear helmets as well.
✓ Teach children to walk, not run, across the street.
✓ Children should cross only with an adult or an older, responsible child.
✓ Whenever crossing the street, try to make eye contact with any drivers nearby, to be sure they see you.
✓ Teach children to avoid running out from between parked cars.
✓ Use sidewalks whenever possible.
✓ Always hold your child’s hand near any moving or parked vehicles.
✓ Adults always need to set a good example!
✓ Avoid sun exposure during peak sun hours (10AM – 4PM).
✓ Wear protective clothing and a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses (with 99-100% UV protection).
✓ Sunscreen is a must (on sunny and cloudy days)! Look for products with UVA and UVB protection and an SPF of at least 15 (according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Association of Dermatology).
✓ Sunscreen should be applied liberally 30 minutes before going out in the sun, and reapplied every two hours or sooner if swimming, sweating or toweling off.
✓ Look for shade whenever possible.
Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac
It’s the oil from the leaves of these plants that cause the potential allergic reaction.
✓ Consider wearing protective clothing to help decrease the amount of exposed skin.
✓ Learn how to recognize what poison ivy, oak and sumac look like, so that they can be avoided.
✓ Avoid bushy, overgrown areas and places which may contain these plants. Try to stay on paths.
Summer First Aid Kit
Every family should have at least one first aid kit at home which is well stocked and readily accessible.
✓ Be prepared. Keep a first aid kit in the car and one to bring on trips.
✓ Don’t forget to restock the kit once an item has been used.
✓ Be sure to keep a list of emergency numbers where they are easy to find. This list should include: emergency medical services (911), the doctor’s number, the dentist’s number, poison control, a number where mom and/or dad can be reached and any other important phone numbers.
Dehydration and Heat-Related Illnesses
✓ Keeping well hydrated is very important.
✓ Children (and adults) must remember to drink plenty of water.
✓ Do not wait until a child says he is thirsty before offering fluids. At this point, he is already dehydrated, so be sure to provide plenty of fluids before going outside, while out in the heat, as well as afterwards.
✓ Playing in the hot summer sun means lots of fluid losses, so avoid strenuous activity during peak sun hours (10AM- 4PM). Look for shade and take lots of breaks.
✓ Seek medical attention immediately for any signs of heat-related illness.
✓ Never let children near the grill. Remember, it can remain very hot even after it is no longer being used.
✓ Be sure to check the internal temperature of foods on the grill, to be sure everything has been cooked appropriately.
✓ If picnicking outdoors, avoid leaving out foods that require refrigeration and/or foods that can quickly spoil.
Source: PBS Kids