It is important that with the heat and all things related to “fun in the sun,” we educate ourselves on how to best keep our kids safe. Every year, one in four kids sustain an injury, and 42% of actual death-related injuries occur between the months of May and August. By educating ourselves and our children these injuries can be easily prevented.
1. Sun & Heat Protection
Whether your children are home during the summer or attending a daycare or camp, they will undoubtedly be spending some time in the sun. It is extremely important, especially during long days by the pool or at the beach, that sunscreen is utilized and heat exhaustion is prevented. For babies under 6 months, minimal sun exposure is ideal. However, if it is not completely preventable, light-weight clothing, a hat, and a minimal amount of sunscreen can be applied (consult your pediatrician for the best brand for your baby). For older children, hats, sunglasses, and light-weight clothing are ideal. Sunscreen should be applied 15 – 30 minutes before exposure with a minimum SPF (sun protection factor) of 30. Children should seek the shade as much as possible when playing outdoors. Peak sun intensity hours are between 10am to 4pm, so be especially cautious of exposure during that time. Also be sure that all children are staying extra hydrated during the summer months, drinking water as much as possible.
2. Pool Safety
Over 800 kids die each year due to accidental drowning. It is of utmost importance to take precautionary action when around a pool (or any body of water). Never, ever leave children unattended in or near the pool, regardless of age and swimming capabilities. It is best to always remain within arm’s length of infants and toddlers when they are around water. Inflatable swimming aids are not life jackets and should not be utilized as such. Although many parents begin swimming lessons at a very young age, children are not developmentally ready for swimming lessons until the age of 4; therefore, lessons for children younger than age 4 should not be viewed as a method to prevent drowning. Always, always, always, know exactly where your child is at when in a pool or near water; do not take your eye off of them even for a second.
3. Playground Safety
Children utilize the playground throughout the year. However, there are extra precautions that should be taken during the warmer summer months. Always check the equipment before allowing your child to play. Ensure metal slides and such are cool enough to prevent burning; some areas of the country produce extremely intense heat and temperatures, making playgrounds unsafe. Also check for loose ropes or malfunctioning equipment. Also, as cliché as it may sound, speak to your children about “stranger danger” and staying safe in public areas. Always know where your child is located on the playground, and do not let he or she venture too far away.
4. Bicycle Safety
Although bicycles make wonderful surprise gifts, it is extremely important that your child test rides a bike before it is purchased. You want to ensure the bike fits your child and is comfortable. There should be a 1 to 3 inch gap between the bars and your child’s body. Do not force your child to ride a 2-wheel bike until he or she is completely ready; the average age for this is 5 or 6. If a 2-wheel bicycle intimidates your child, that is okay – you want to ensure he or she has the desire to learn to ride. Of utmost importance is head and skull protection – no matter how far or close from home, a helmet must always be worn!
5. Bug, Insect & Plant Protection
Heat attracts bugs and lush greenery. Most insects prefer locations that are moist and humid. Scented soaps, perfumes, and hair sprays also attract bugs and insects, particularly mosquitos. Avoid using such products on your children. Wearing light-colored clothing and shoes – and even tucking pants into socks – can prevent insects such as ticks. Utilizing repellents that contain DEET do not kill insects but can help reduce bites from mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and other bugs. However, repellents should be utilizes sparingly on children and should never be used on infants. Non-toxic repellents that contain picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus can be used as well. Poison ivy and other such plants are prevalent in the summer months as well. Wearing clothing that covers a good amount of the skin can help prevent contact with these plants. Mild cases of poison ivy – with symptoms of itchy skin, redness, and small bumps – can be treated with cool showers and oatmeal baths. If symptoms persist, contact a physician, as it is possible that a prescription may be needed.