Playing outside until dinner time, running through the sprinkler, spending the day at the local pool, visiting a waterpark, riding bikes with friends, building backyard forts, climbing trees – these are the hallmarks of childhood summers.
But with all this extra time outside and in the water, there are some precautions parents need to take to keep their kids safe and ensure maximum summer fun.
Follow these outdoor and water safety tips to protect your kids while they make summer memoires that will last a lifetime.
- For young children, schedule activities in early morning hours or evening hours when temperatures will be lower.
- Always use sunscreen, even on cloudy days! Use a sunscreen with SPF 30 with broad-spectrum protection that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
- Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outdoors. Don’t forget to apply to the tops of ears, feet, backs of hands and scalp.
- Reapply sunscreen frequently, especially if swimming or sweating. At least every two hours.
- Protect their eyes too. Make sure your kids wear a hat and sunglasses.
- Stay hydrated! Hot weather can increase risk of heat-related illness. Keep water on hand and look for shade in the hottest parts of the day.
- Designate a “pool-watcher” when children are swimming. When many gather together, adults may think someone else is watching. Having one person that’s in charge can increase safety – rotate this responsibility between adults throughout the day.
- Never depend on floaties or flotation devices to take the place of close supervision.
- Know in advance which children can swim and those that cannot. All children need to be supervised. Remember that no child or adult is “drown-proof.”
- Make sure safety fences and gate latches around the pool are in excellent condition and out of children’s reach.
- Keep rescue equipment and a fully charged phone on hand in case of emergency.
- If boating, always have kids wear life-jackets and have one available for each adult. Make sure life-jackets are appropriately fitted.
- When at the beach, always swim where lifeguards are available if possible. Never let young children swim in the ocean alone.
- Learn what a rip current looks like and teach your children how to spot them. Also teach your children how to swim out of one if caught in a rip current – teach children not to panic, to not try to fight the current and to swim out of it by swimming perpendicular with the shore. There are many videos available online that show how to swim out of a rip current – watch with your kids before your beach vacation.
Keep Moving, but Safely!
- Stay active during the summer, children and adults alike tend to gain weight during these months of vacation. Summer is a wonderful time to head outside and be active
- Check playground equipment before letting kids play on it. Look for surfaces that are too hot that could cause burns, loose ropes, or broken swing chains or seats.
- Always supervise children on playground equipment. Teach them safe habits to reduce chance of injury.
- Always wear a helmet when biking, skating, skateboarding or scooting.
- Children should not wear headphones while bike riding or walking, as they block traffic sounds and increase risk of pedestrian injuries.
Outdoor Safety: Be prepared for bug bites and more!
- Keep a first aid kit ready and well stocked so you’re prepared for insect bites (as well as cuts and bruises)!
- Use insect repellents with DEET on children only sparingly, as DEET can be toxic. Repellents with 10-30 percent concentrations of DEET may be used if you choose to do so, but do not apply to face or hands.
- Anytime your kids have been playing outdoors, check their heads and skin for ticks. Finding a tick soon reduces the chance it can cause disease such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme Disease. If you find a tick, remove it with tweezers and keep in a jar for a period of time so it can be tested if your child begins showing any symptoms of illness.
- If any of your children are allergic to bees or other insects, it is vital to have medicine available to treat allergic reactions such as an EpiPen.
- Teach your kids what poison ivy and poison oak looks like and teach them to steer clear of it.
- Keep a list of emergency numbers in the kit that includes phone numbers for doctors, dentists, poison control and emergency contacts.
Share these safety tips with friends and family, and have a safe and happy summer!