Summer Safety: Helpful Hints to Keep your Family Safe While Having Fun in the Sun

By Purex | Jun. 10, 2013 | Family Life

School’s out for summer, and your kids couldn’t be more excited to toss their backpacks aside and hit the outdoors for some good old fashioned fun. Summer is often associated with sunny skies and innocent smiles, yet hospitals across the country will tell you that the majority of injuries to young children occur between May and August. While this does not mean you should lock your kids inside the house, it does mean you should read this article carefully and make sure to pay attention to what your kids are up to this summer.
Sun Safety
The two most important aspects of sun safety are sun protection and preventing heat exhaustion. When it comes to sun protection, at the least be sure your kids are wearing sunscreen. Yes, that means cloudy AND sunny days. Look for products with UVA and UVB protection and an SPF of at least 15. Make sure your kids reapply every two hours or so if swimming, sweating or drying off. For those with younger children, look for shade whenever possible and dress them in protective clothing with light pants, wide brimmed hats and sunglasses.
The best way to prevent heat exhaustion is to keep your kids hydrated. Often times, heat exhaustion is caused by dehydration, so don’t wait until a child says he or she is thirsty before offering fluids. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include nausea, vomiting, dizziness and confusion. If your child may be suffering from it, immediately have him or her stop all physical activity, lie down in a cool place and drink fluids.
Pool & Water Safety
While this should go without saying, we’ll say it anyway: NEVER LEAVE KIDS ALONE NEAR THE POOL, regardless of age or swimming capabilities. Home pools are not an exception to this rule. More than half of child victims each year drown in their own family’s pool, so don’t assume kids are safe because they are somewhere that’s familiar.
Instruct babysitters about potential hazards and stress the need for constant supervision. Many drownings can be prevented by having rescue equipment on hand. For extra precaution, set up a poolside telephone with posted emergency contacts. As always, be sure to educate kids on the reasons why running around the pool or diving into shallow water is unsafe. Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision and remember that no one, child or adult, is drown proof.
Sporting Safety
The first thing that comes to mind when we think of youth sporting is bicycle safety. Whether or not you wore a helmet when you rode a bike as a child, decades of research and knowledge have showed it’s a must for young kids today. So when you send your child out on a bicycle, don’t make the mistake of thinking they’re invincible and send them out equipped with the right gear.
This goes for other sports as well. Choose the right equipment for the right sport. Make sure you and your child wear the proper protective gear, such as wrist guards, knee and elbow pads for roller sports. Even when your kids are just taking a little batting practice, stress the importance of helmets on the baseball field. Everyone thinks an injury won’t happen to their child until it does, so stay ahead of the curve and out of the hospital as a result of preventable injuries.
Playground Safety
Don’t fool yourself into thinking every playground is a fun, safe place to let your kids play. Before unleashing them, be sure that playground equipment is age-appropriate and properly maintained. Check for loose screws and make sure the ground is covered by a protective surface such as rubber mats, mulch or wood chips. Surfaces that are too hot can cause burns and loose ropes can cause accidental strangulation. Lastly, similar to kids playing in the pool, children should be supervised at all times while on the playground, especially children under the age of five. Attentive parents, not rubber mats or wood chips, are often that which stands between a child and a trip to the emergency room.
Nature & Outdoor Safety
While nature hikes and camping can be great family fun, it’s important to educate your children on how to stay safe in the woods. The first aspect of this is staying away from berries, no matter how delicious they may look. When it comes to berries, there is no color test for edibility. So as a rule, do not eat any berries unless you personally know them to be safe.
Another common danger is poison ivy, which causes an allergic reaction when it comes into contact with skin. Poison ivy can be anywhere, it is not only deep in nature, so be careful to look for it even if you are just heading out for a day at the park. The only way to avoid developing the rash is to avoid contact with the plant, but wearing clothing that covers arms and legs will help reduce your risk.
Bug Safety
While not all bites and stings can be prevented, coming prepared for outdoor activities can reduce your family’s risk. Animal lovers don’t worry – repellents don’t kill insects, they just minimize your susceptibility to mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and other annoying bugs. In addition to using repellent, be sure to check your children for ticks after extended stays in grassy or wooded areas.
Before you buy insect repellent, remember to check the label. Repellents containing DEET should be used on children sparingly. Never use repellents on infants, and do not apply repellents containing DEET to your face or hands.
When you and the kids head out for fun in the sun this summer, refer to this article as a guide for some tips on how to stay safe. However, be sure that this is not your only resource. The easiest way to prevent injuries is to stay educated on proper safety issues and always supervise your children. Now enough reading, it’s time to hit the road and have some fun!