Summer brings a lot of opportunities for outdoor play, but with that it also brings opportunities for a lot of injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each summer 2.3 million children visit the emergency room due to accidents around the grill, pool, and play set. As parents and caregivers plan to spend time outdoors with toddlers and preschoolers, they should be aware of these 5 summer backyard dangers.
1. Wading pools. While some parents and nannies may think less water means less danger, according to research from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in the United States every five days a child drowns from being submerged in a portable pool during the summer months. In addition to closely supervising children when they are in a portable pool, parents and caregivers must be vigilant about avoiding distractions, like answering the phone or socializing with neighbors, when the children are playing in and around wading pools. Most of the children who drowned were under the age of five.
2. The sun. To avoid sunburn or too much sun exposure, be sure to apply sunscreen to the children anytime they are playing outdoors. While it can be tempting to only put on sunscreen when the children are at the beach, in the pool, or only on sunny days, make putting sunscreen on a priority anytime the children are playing outdoors. Waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 should be applied before heading outdoors and reapplied every 90 minutes for the best coverage. Dressing children in hats, swim suits, and clothes that offer UPF protection can also prevent sunburn. Preventing sunburns is the key to preventing skin cancer.
3. Play structures. Backyard play structures can pose many hazards, especially if they aren’t age-appropriate for the children who are playing on them. Be sure that the play structures are designed for the ages of the children using them. Parents and caregivers should also regularly inspect the equipment for dangers, including loose or protruding bolts, broken parts, and any stability issues. Many home play structures are placed directly on the grass, rather than on an impact-absorbing surface like shredded rubber or wood chips. Parents should opt for proper ground surface covering when installing new play structures.
4. Bug bites and bee stings. For young children, getting a bug bite or a bee sting can be a traumatic experience. Unlike adults, toddlers and preschoolers don’t have the self-control needed to not itch or touch the damaged and irritated skin. As a result, infections can occur. When outside, consider applying insect repellent on children to prevent bug bites. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that DEET based repellents (with no more than 30% DEET) be applied to children aged 2 months and over once per day. Avoid putting repellent on the children’s hands and close to their eyes, ears, and mouths. Insect repellent should also only be used on exposed skin and it should be washed off with soap and water once indoors.
5. Garden hoses. Many garden hoses, especially older ones or ones with brass fittings can contain high levels of lead. Lead in any amount is unsafe for children. Lead ingestion can lead to brain damage and developmental problems. Avoid allowing children to drink from hoses that say “do not drink” on them. Since children often drink the water in kiddie pools, it’s a good idea for parents and caregivers to only use water from hoses that are safe to drink out of to fill them.