For many children, summertime is the best time of year! What child doesn’t love to spend the days outside playing in the sun? It’s also a great opportunity for families to spend time together, whether it’s a day on the beach, relaxing by the pool, or bbq-ing with friends and family. However, there are potential dangers that can ruin summer fun very quickly! As parents, learning about these dangers and how to avoid them will make the summer months much more enjoyable for you and your children.
Adult supervision is the #1 most important rule of water safety. Any water, no matter how deep, can be a danger to small children. Children should be within arm’s reach of an adult at all times when in or near the water. Use child-size life vests instead of arm floaties or pool tubes since they can be easy to slide out of or tip over. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Children over age 1 may be at a lower risk of drowning if they have had some formal swimming instruction, but swim programs should never be considered “drown proofing” a child of any age. All pools, whether inflatable or permanent, should be fenced in or somehow blocked from unsupervised children.
Limit sun exposure during peak hours (10am-4pm). Sunscreen should ALWAYS be used (even on cloudy days) and should provide both UVA and UVB protection and an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out into the sun and reapply every two hours (or sooner if swimming or sweating). Remember, water and sand reflect UV rays and could cause sunburn more quickly. Use hats and sunglasses and look for shady areas to take a break from the sun whenever possible.
Some ticks can carry germs and cause diseases. Learn the signs and symptoms of tick bites, and be sure to do family tick checks after spending time outside. Try to avoid overgrown areas, and use a repellant containing DEET, which is proven to repel both mosquitos and ticks.**NOTE: Be sure to use a product with LESS than 30% DEET which is safe for children over 2 months old. Always follow directions carefully when using these products on children.
Heat Exhaustion and Dehydration
Staying hydrated is extremely important on hot summer days. Make sure children drink before they go outside to play and take drink breaks every 20 minutes (in a shady area if possible). Fatigue, extreme thirst, headache, nausea, dizziness, and muscle cramping are all signs of heat exhaustion which can lead to heat stroke if left untreated, which can be extremely dangerous. View this article from “WebMD” to learn more about Heat Exhaustion.
Learn how to recognize poison plants and symptoms. Try to stay on paths and away from overgrown areas while hiking and wear protective clothing such as long sleeves and pants to avoid potential contact. Check out “WebMD” for information on Allergies to Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac.
First Aid Kit
Keep well-stocked first aid kits handy at home and in your car. Be sure to restock items after using them. Keep a list of emergency numbers such as emergency medical services, doctor’s numbers, poison control (1-800-222-1222) and emergency contact numbers. Here is a list of what you should keep in your First Aid Kit from “The American Red Cross”.
Life jackets should be worn by children AT ALL TIMES when on boats, docks, or near bodies of water. Make sure the life jacket fits properly and never use blow up water toys or rafts in place of life jackets.
Keep children away from the grill, bonfires, and stoves even if they aren’t lit. They can remain very hot even after the flame is gone. Check out this article from “What to Expect” to learn more about treating children’s burns.
Remember… Adults should always set a good example! Children are much more likely to follow safety rules if they see us doing the same.