Hot temperatures and more time spent outdoors, perhaps unsupervised, can put kids' health and safety at risk, leading to a lot of accidents and tragedies this time of year.
Sun and Summer HeatThe most obvious hidden dangers in the summer simply have to do with the heat and can include:
- heat stress and heat stroke, which can be prevented. Keep kids well-hydrated, take frequent breaks when playing outside, and watch for symptoms such as thirst, cramps, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and fever. Never leave a child or let her play in a hot car.
- getting burned on metal slides or other hot playground equipment.
- sunburns--although parents should be aware of the risks of not applying sunscreen or sunblock on their children, sunburns are still common (especially if lotions are not used properly.)
- never leaving a child unattended in a car, even for a few minutes, as a car can get hot quickly, and be sure to always lock your car and secure your keys so that your kids can't play in your car and get trapped inside
Water Safety TipsMany families try to escape the summer heat in a pool or nearby lake. To keep your kids safe around the water be sure to:
- childproof your pool by enclosing it in a fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate.
- supervise your kids around the pool, even if they know how to swim.
- have children who don't know how to swim wear a life vest instead of "floaties" when they are in the pool.
- always have your child wear a life vest when on a lake or river, even if they know how to swim.
- take your child to swimming lessons once he or she is four to five years old, the age when most kids can learn to swim.
Other Summer Safety TipsIn addition to using sunscreen, supervising kids around water, and protecting your kids from the heat, you can keep your kids safe this summer by:
- checking the pool (or nearby ponds and hot tubs, etc.) first if a child is ever missing as someone calls 911. Next, check the car, including the trunk, as every second can count if your child has drowned or is trapped in a hot car.
- avoiding pourable gel fuel for firepots that have recently been recalled.
- educating kids at the beach that digging holes in the sand deeper than their knees can be a risk for a collapsing hole and getting trapped under the sand.
- keeping younger kids away from lawn mowers. Despite the need for a summer job or simply wanting to help, remember that the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children younger than 16 years old should not be allowed to use ride-on mowers; children younger than 12 should not use walk-behind mowers.
- using insect repellents when necessary.
- doing a daily tick check if your kids have been playing outdoors, especially in or near wooded areas.
- outfitting your kids with appropriate protective gear, such as a helmet and pads, when they ride a bicycle, skateboard, or scooter, or while wearing heelys.
- putting a guard on windows above the first floor if you are going to routinely open the window during warmer weather to help prevent falls
- not letting your kids play with fireworks and instead visiting a public fireworks display this fourth of July.
- not eating food that has been left out for more than an hour at barbecues and family picnics, which can cause food poisoning.
- teaching your kids to recognize and avoid poison ivy.
Although not a safety danger, it's important to remember that time off from school also means that your child may have more opportunity to become inactive and eat more junk food, leading to his becoming overweight. Encourage your child to be active and eat a healthy diet all summer long.