There are many reasons why summer is one of our children's favorite times of the year. It's three months of being outside and having fun everyday, and its the perfect break from school. That being said, summer can also become a dangerous time of year if we are not careful. Activities like swimming, the Fourth of July, and hanging out under the sun, all staples of the summer months, have ways of inflicting injury. The good thing, however, is that many of these injuries are preventable when we know what to watch for and how to stay safe.
It is important to establish, adopt, and practice good summer safety habits. This blog provides summer safety tips to help you keep your child happy, healthy, and having fun throughout the summer months.
1. WATER SAFETY
Learn to swim -- while this doesn't guarantee immunity from drowning, it can help reduce the likelihood of drowning.
Never, ever leave a child unattended -- always watch your child if they are in or near water. If you are with trusted family or friends, try starting a designated "water watcher" rotation so you can each take turns watching the kids.
Read ALL posted signs and warnings -- some swimming areas have different rules than others, so make sure you note such differences. Rules are in place to keep people safe so they should always be followed, especially in water areas.
Use a life jacket and avoid water wings -- if your child is a weak or non-swimmer but wants to join in on the water fun, have them use a Coast Guard-approved life vest. Air-filled water toys like water wings and pool floaties are fun when used as toys, but they are not built to prevent potential drowning and should not be used as though they are.
Know your "too's" -- know your kids' limits when they are playing in water, and teach them to understand these limits themselves. Never get too tired, too thirsty, too cold, too much sun exposure or too far from safety.
2. HEAT AND SUN SAFETY
Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen -- make sure everyone puts on sunscreen before starting the day and make sure everyone reapplies throughout the day. One layer of sunscreen is not enough to last a whole day of water play, and remember, it doesn't have to be sunny to get burned.
Keep kids out of hot cars -- leaving children in the car during the summer can lead to hyperthermia, or the overheating of the body. The temperature of a car can increase by 20 degrees in just 10 minutes, and by 40 degrees in one hour. Cracking the windows for air does not prevent heat stroke, and children have died when the outside temperature was just above 70 degrees. It is much better to wake your child up from their nap than leave them sleeping in the car and risk hyperthermia or heat stroke.
Drink up! -- make sure your kids are drinking plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Being out in the sun increases the chances of dehydration, which can lead to exhaustion, headaches, dizziness, or more severe illness. Frequent drink breaks (every 20 minutes or less) should be taken, especially in hot weather.
3. FIREWORK SAFETY
Leave it to the professionals -- public fireworks shows are much safer than trying to set off fireworks yourself. Make the public show an exciting outing and encourage friends and family to go along with you and stay safe as well. Allow yourself to sit back, relax and watch while keeping you and your children away from the dangerous explosives.
Use glowsticks instead -- sparklers can reach a temperature of 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, almost hot enough to melt gold. Prevent serious burns or injuries by giving your children colorful, neon glowsticks instead.
Keep infants away -- loud noises can be dangerous as well. Keep infants away from the loud explosives to prevent permanently damaging their hearing.
4. BIKE SAFETY
Wear a helmet -- and make sure it fits! Improperly wearing a bike helmet is no better than not wearing one at all. Bike helmets should NOT be loose, tilted forwards or backwards, or cover the eyes or face. A properly fitting bike helmet will be level and snug on the head. Practice properly fitting a bike helmet on your child and make sure you wear one too. Your child will not want to wear one if you don't.
Be aware of surroundings -- don't allow your children to listen to music while they bike. Music blocks out important surrounding noises that can indicated nearby cars or approaching emergency vehicles. Also teach your children to look up while they bike, and not at their feet or at the ground.
Practice safe biking -- you teach your children to stop and look both ways at intersections while walking, so you should do the same for biking. Teach them to read street signs in order to learn were bikes are allowed and where they are not. Encourage use of designated bike lanes and when there are none, practice safe biking on streets next to cars.
5. WINDOW FALLS AND WINDOW SAFETY
Follow the 4-inch rule -- when the summer heat picks up, you may begin opening your windows for fresh air. When you do so, make sure you never open your windows more than four inches. This will prevent your child from being able to slip through and fall out. You can even buy window stoppers that will keep your window open at a certain height and wont slip if the window is pushed.
Open windows from the top down -- if your windows allow it, open them from the top down to prevent children from being able to access the opening.
Move furniture away -- move furniture away from windows when they are open. This prevents children from climbing up on the furniture and toppling out of the opening.
These summer safety tips can help keep you and your family safe. Encourage these safe habits in your household and teach your children why safety is so important, even during the summer.