The school year is coming to a close and the weather is warming up, so you know what that means — summer vacation! It’s a great time to get out of the house, get some exercise, and get off the couch, but it’s also a time of year when you need to be mindful of your children’s safety. Here are 10 tips to help you enjoy the warm summer months while keeping yourself and your family safe.
1. Don’t Let The Bugs Bug You
Summer almost brings bugs with it that have been sleeping away the cooler winter months. Bees, mosquitoes, ticks, and other 6 and 8 legged creatures can quickly put a damper on your summer fun.
- Teach — Make sure you teach your kids, no matter how young they are, not to mess with bugs they find. Observing is fine, picking up is not.
- Observe — Check out the area where you’re playing or hanging out. Do you see any bug-related hazards like wasp or bee nests, or high grass where ticks or spiders might hide?
- Be Prepared — Stings happen. Make sure you’re prepared with anti-itch cream for bites, and any necessary EpiPens for sting allergies.
When you’re running around in the summer heat, it’s easy to get too wrapped up in what you’re doing that you forget to hydrate. Staying hydrated, and keeping your kids hydrated, is actually a bit easier than it sounds.
- Keep water and other drinks readily available. Kids will drink when they’re thirsty, but might need a gentle reminder if they get too enthralled with their play.
- Popsicles — Frozen treats are a great way to get some fluid in summertime. Just stick with natural fruit popsicles rather than the sugar-filled alternatives.
- Fruits — Juicy fruits like watermelon are a perfect way to stay hydrated. Challenge your kids to a seed spitting contest to make eating watermelon fun!
3. Be Aware Around Water
Everyone loves getting in the pool to cool off, but it’s also one of the most dangerous summer activities if you’re not careful. Make sure that kids are always supervised in the pool, no matter how well they swim. For young kids who don’t swim well yet, a life vest can be a great option — don’t rely on your pool floats to keep them above water, since most of them specifically say on their packaging that they’re not a lifesaving device.
Make sure your pool is secure too, either with a locking fence around in-ground pools or a removable ladder for above-ground pools. Basically, make it impossible for your little humans to get in the water without your help.
4. Allergies Are Tricky
We’ve already mentioned making sure that you have an EpiPen to take care of any insect sting allergies, but those aren’t the only allergies that you might need to worry about.
Be aware of both food and environmental allergies that might affect your kids while they’re enjoying the warm weather. For severe allergies, again — don’t forget your EpiPen. Even if you’re only a few minutes from home, those few minutes could mean the difference between a happy ending and a tragic one.
For environmental allergies, carry the appropriate dosages of over the counter allergy medication for your children. There’s nothing worse than trying to play with a stuffy nose!
5. Protect Yourself From UV
Summer equal sun, so make sure you’re taking the appropriate steps to protect yourself and your kids from the UV rays.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying a broad spectrum (see— protects against both UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen of at least SPF 30 half an hour before you’re heading out into the sun. This should also be reapplied every two hours, or more often if you’re playing in the water.
For kids who might not want to sit still long enough to be slathered up with sunscreen, keep them covered up with hats, sunglasses, and long sleeved shirts to protect their delicate skin from the sun’s rays. With 1 out of 5 Americans receiving a diagnosis of skin cancer at some point in their lives, protecting your skin from the sun’s rays is essential, especially for young ones.
6. Don’t Wait In The Car
We all remember waiting in the car while Mom and Dad ran in to the grocery store for a treat, but it’s the worst idea during the warm summer months.
Even if it’s not excessively hot outside, the temperature inside your car can skyrocket in just a few minutes. On an 85 degree day, 10 minutes parked with the air conditioner off can shoot the interior temperature to more than 100 degrees.
It’s illegal in 19 states to leave pets or children in hot cars and some states like Florida have made it legal for bystanders to break your car window if there is a pet or child in immediate danger. Protect your kids (and your fur kids!) by bringing them inside —don’t leave them in the car, not even for a few minutes.
7. Watch Your Head
Bicycles are a great way to enjoy the warm summer weather, but only if you’re wearing a helmet! Helmets are the best way to prevent head injury from falling off a bike or being struck by a car or another bike. Wearing a properly fitted helmet can actually reduce your chances of a head injury by just under 50%.
Check with your local sheriff’s office if you don’t have fitted helmets for your children — most usually host a bike safety fair at the beginning of the summer to make sure everyone has properly fitted helmets to keep them safe during their summer biking adventures.
8. Don’t Let Your Food Get Hot
There’s nothing quite like a picnic in the park when the weather finally warms up, but it’s important to keep your hot foods hot and your cold foods cold when you’re packing your lunch.
It’s important to keep perishable food cold, and don’t let it sit out for longer than two hours. On hot days, that should drop to one hour. Warmer temperatures could encourage bacteria growth and result in food poisoning.
Hot food, on the other hand, should be kept hot until served and then placed in a fridge or cooler soon after.
Cook your food to the proper internal temperature (145F for steaks and roasts, 160F for burgers and ground meat, and 165F for poultry) and keep it above 140F until it’s served.
9. Keep Your Cool
Sun isn’t the only thing you need to worry about when summer rolls around — higher temperatures present their own unique types of risk as well, especially for kids. Adults, when they start to overheat, will take a break, seek out a drink or rest in the shade. Kids, on the other hand, tend to keep going full speed ahead.
- Encourage breaks — Encourage your kids to come in and cool off, take breaks in the pool, or just relax for a few minutes before resuming their games.
- Stay hydrated — we’ve already mentioned this but it bears repeating.
- Know the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke — If anyone starts exhibiting the symptoms of either of these heat related problems bring them in to cool off immediately.
10. Check The Playground First
Playgrounds are a great place to burn off some energy and enjoy the warm weather, but before you set the kids loose, take a few minutes to look for hazards that might send you finding another park. Things to look for include:
- Broken or badly worn equipment.
- Equipment that could cause injury when it gets too hot —yes, metal slides of our childhoods, we’re looking at you.
- Insect nests — wasps, bees, or other stinging bugs nesting in playground should be avoided.
- Hazards left intentionally by other people — this sounds awful, but there have been cases where playground equipment was intentionally booby trapped to harm the children playing there.
Don’t let these safety tips discourage you from enjoying the warm summer months! Just make sure you’re prepared for anything, and take care to protect yourself from the sun and heat and you’ll be sure to make this summer one to remember!