Keep Your Kids Safe in Summer

The school bell has rung, the pencils and notebooks have been packed, and the kids are ready for some summer fun! Children enjoy the hot summer months because they allow them to spend a lot of time outside. Swimming in the pool, hiking through the woods, long walks, or going for a bike ride, there is something for everyone, young and old.

For most of us, summer means enjoying fun activities and making memories. Enjoying summer also means staying healthy and safe. During the summer, especially, children can easily find themselves in danger, so they need to be guided in the right direction by their parent(s). Here are a few tips to help keep them safe.

We hope everyone enjoys this special time of year, but we also want to remind parents that there are potential hazards during the summer months, and it’s important to be aware of them. The more one learns about preventing illnesses and injuries, the less likely they are to occur.

When it comes to summer safety, there are numerous topics to cover, and we’ll only touch on a few here. Please keep in mind that this is a short list of suggestions. Check out the websites listed at the end of this article for more information.

On the Street and Sidewalks

Bike safety is important. Kids have fun riding their bikes around, but they do have accidents.

“Every year, about 300,000 kids go to the emergency department because of bike injuries, and at least 10,000 kids have injuries that require a few days in the hospital. Some of these injuries are so serious that children die, usually from head injuries,” according to KidsHealth.

Children are in danger of sustaining head injuries, which can mean brain injuries. That’s why kids need to wear well-fitting bike helmets.

Helmet Safety

  • 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.

Pedestrian safety

Pedestrian safety is another important aspect of safety. Safe Kids Worldwide reports that “Developmentally, most kids are unable to judge the speed and distance of oncoming cars until age 10.” There are many things you can teach your child to do to be safe when walking, including:

  • Look left, right, and then left again before you cross the street.
  • Stay on sidewalks or paths, and only cross streets at corners, and using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Make and maintain eye contact with drivers before you cross the road.
  • Do not let them cross a street without an adult if they are under the age of 10.
  • Pay special attention to cars that are backing up or turning.
  • Do not dart out or run into the road, or cross in between parked cars.
  • If walking when it’s dark outside, be extra alert and be visible to drivers by using reflective gear.
  • Put your phone, headphones, and any other electronic devices away when crossing a road.

Remember that your actions do speak louder than your words. So, when you’re driving, be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Don’t use your cell phone or other distracting devices.
  • Be alert and slow down when you’re in a residential neighborhood or in a school zone. Pay attention and look for walkers, runners, or bikers who may dart in front of you unexpectedly.
  • Remember that pedestrians always have the right of way. Look both ways when you’re making a turn so you can see any runners, walkers, or bikers that you may not see initially.

Zika and Allergies

The Zika virus has been frequently discussed in the news recently. The main way that children and infants get Zika is through the bites of infected mosquitoes. There is no vaccine that will prevent Zika, so it’s important to take steps to repel the mosquitoes. Use air conditioning if it’s available, and be sure door and window screens are in place.

Dress your child in pants and long sleeves when the weather permits it. Protect your child with insect repellent that is EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) registered. Common symptoms of the Zika virus are red eyes, pain in the joints, rash, and fever. Symptoms usually disappear within a few days up to about one week. Many people do not have any symptoms when infected with Zika.

Summer allergies can make children feel miserable. They have itchy noses and eyes, coughing and sneezing, watery eyes and runny noses. If your child has some seasonal allergies, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the pollen counts, and keep your child indoors when there is a high pollen count.

Windy and sunny days may be troublesome for your child if they are an allergy sufferer. It will help to use air conditioning and keep windows closed. If your child is not finding any relief from their allergies, schedule an appointment with the family doctor.

Tick Bites

Ticks are the cause of many diseases, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. These diseases can be deadly. Discover how to protect your family. Some ideas are as follows:

  • 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

Sun and Water

Sunburns hurt, and if your child suffers from even a few sunburns that are serious, this can increase their skin cancer risk later in life. It’s a good idea to try and stay out of the sun during the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (peak sun hours). Sunscreen should always be worn, SPF 15 at least, and it should also have UVA and UVB protection.

Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before going outside. Wear light-colored, lightweight, loose clothing, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat. Try to find shade as much as possible, or at least ensure that a shady area is nearby in case they need to get out of the sun. Be sure that your child stays cool and drinks plenty of liquids. Drinking cold beverages, like water and sports drinks, will help them stay cool and hydrated throughout the day.

Sun Protection

  • Avoid sun exposure during peak sun hours (10 AM – 6 PM).
  • 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.

Water Safety

Swimming and other water activities are a great way for kids to get the physical activity they need. The number one thing to remember for water safety is to have an adult supervising children at all times when the child is in or near water of any depth.

If your child will be in ocean water, teach them about rip tides and what to do if they are pulled under the water. When boating, everyone should be wearing a properly-fitted life jacket, which can prevent drownings. Whether in a pool or a natural body of water, swimming can be exhausting for your child so be sure they’re getting plenty of rest in between swim sessions so that they don’t get overly tired, mentally and physically, on hot summer days.

  • Adult supervision is of paramount importance. Parents need to focus on their children 100% of the time. No distractions!
  • 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.

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.
  • It’s also helpful to keep a first aid kit in the car and one to bring on trips.
  • Kids get lots of cuts and scrapes during the warm summer months, so it’s nice to be prepared.
  • 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.
  • 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 and afterwards.
  • Playing in the hot summer sun means lots of fluid losses, so avoid strenuous activity during peak sun hours (10 am- 6 pm). Look for shade and take lots of breaks.
  • Seek medical attention immediately for any signs of heat-related illness.

Grilling

  • 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.

For more information on the topics above, please visit:
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Academy of Dermatology
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Keep all of this advice in mind, and have a safe and healthy summer!