Summer is a great time to get out and have fun, but be mindful of the following safety tips:
- Make sure your CPR and first Aid certifications are up-to-date. Accidents happen regardless of how many safety precautions you take. Being prepared to handle whatever may come up helps you stay calm during an emergency, take the correct action quickly, and keep injuries to a minimum. If your certifications have lapsed, contact your local Red Cross or American Heart Association to schedule a renewal class. Proper training can literally save a life.
- One of the best ways to spend a summer afternoon is playing at the pool, lake, or ocean. But water can be deceptively dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year about 800 children drown. Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children ages 1 to 3, and the second-leading cause among kids under 15. Keeping a watchful eye on all children and staying within an arm’s reach of younger children is essential to keeping them safe at the pool, lake, or ocean. Don’t assume children who are strong swimmers are automatically safe around water. Every child can fall victim to a cramp, tiring, or an unseen undertow.
- Staying hydrated is one of the most important safety precautions you can take during summertime. Instead of stocking up on juice and sports drinks, invest in a quality water filter and plenty of refillable water bottles. The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends that “water, not sports drinks, should be the principal source of hydration for children and adolescents.” What about kids involved in summer sports? The AAP says, “Sports drinks can be helpful for young athletes engaged in prolonged, vigorous physical activities, but in most cases they are unnecessary on the sports field.” Making sure kids drink plenty of water throughout the day will keep them hydrated and ready to take on summertime fun.
- Putting sunscreen on kids 6 months and older every time they go outside is a must. Applying sunscreen 30 minutes before children are in the sun ensures they have full protection. Teaching kids to spell BEENS will help you remember to cover often forgotten spots: Back of knees, Ears, Eye area, Neck, and Scalp. Reapplying sunscreen every two hours, more often if the kids are swimming or playing in the water, will help keep kids safe throughout the day.
- Insects are an unavoidable part of summer and painful or itchy bites can quickly dampen any outdoor activity. Using a safe and effective bug repellant makes time spent outside a lot more enjoyable. The American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control recommend parents and caregivers use an insect repellant that contains 10% to 30% DEET on children 2 months and older. Combination sunscreen / insect repellent products shouldn’t be used because sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, but insect repellent doesn’t.
- Ticks are another troublesome part of summer. They can infect both children and adults with bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause serious illness including Lyme disease. Even when using an insect repellant with DEET children can pick up ticks, especially when playing in areas where ticks thrive like the woods and grassy lawn areas. Doing a full body check for ticks each day is the best way to ensure your charges stay tick-free. Adding a daily tick patrol to the evening bath routine makes a routine check easy and fun to do. If you do find a tick, grasp it with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, and pull it straight out.
- Summer is the perfect opportunity for you and older children to enjoy a bike ride on local trails or through a favorite park. Making sure kids are wearing a quality correctly-fitting helmet is necessary to prevent injury in the case of an accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says, “A properly fitted bicycle helmet reduces the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent.” Helping kids personalize their helmets to reflect their own interests and hobbies is an easy way to get them excited about adding it to their safety routine.
- Bikes aren’t the only thing that requires a helmet. Blades, scooters, and skateboards all pose their own risks. Knee and elbow pads are a smart idea for children of all skill levels. Pads should have a hard plastic shield, not interfere with movement, and fit snugly without cutting off circulation. For beginners, outfitting kids with additional gear such as wrist guards, gloves, and mouth guards will offer added protection and peace of mind.