Did you know emergency department visits increase by 15-27% in the summer months? In the midst of family vacations and time spent outdoors, it is important to keep in mind that summertime has heightened safety risks.
With only a few weeks remaining until the end of this school year, your kids are enthusiastically talking about their exciting summer plans. The days of summer are long and welcome all sorts of outdoor activities. To ensure your children have a safe and fun time this summer, here are 5 safety tips to keep in mind:
1. Time in the sun's ultraviolet rays can cause damage to the skin after only 15 minutes of exposure. With so much time spent outdoors under the sun, it’s imperative that certain precautions are taken to prevent sunburns, heatstroke, and other injuries.
- Always apply (and reapply) sunscreen with SPF 30 (or greater) when outside.
- Sun exposure should be limited, especially between 9am-4pm (peak hours of highest UV rays). Outdoor activities should be scheduled in the morning and evening hours.
- Protect skin and eyes from the damaging UV rays – wear protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses.
- For any extended amount of time spent outdoors, walk and play in the shade.
- Avoid sunburns – too many sunburns as a child can lead to skin problems later in life, including skin cancer.
- Stay hydrated with water and keep cool (shade, AC, swim) to prevent heatstroke.
- Dress babies and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Never leave babies, children, older adults, or pets in a parked car — not even for a minute or if windows are slightly cracked.
2. Water play activity in or around any body of water – a bucket, sink, bath, beach, pool, hot tub, or lake – is loads of fun, but it demands special care and safety measures to prevent injury and death. Drowning is the leading cause of death in children 1-4 years old. Water safety must be the top priority.
- Never leave your child unattended around any body of water. Actively supervise and don’t be distracted. Young children need to be within arm’s reach of an adult.
- Empty all water-holding items immediately after use (tubs, buckets, containers, kiddie pools). Store them upside down so there is no water collection.
- Close toilet lids and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning. Close doors to the bathroom and laundry room.
- Install fences around home pools. Pool fences should border all sides of the pool and measure at least four-feet tall with self-closing/self-latching gates.
- Teach children to swim with an adult.
- A U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket must always be the primary floatation device, not a water wing or water noodle.
- Learn CPR and basic water rescue skills. Know what to do in an emergency. This may help you save a life.
3. Picnics, grilling, and camp fires - what’s summertime without barbecues, camping, and picnics? Keep these tips in mind to dodge any unpleasant GI (gastrointestinal) upset and burns:
- Prevent food poisoning: don’t eat food left out of the refrigerator for over an hour when the outside temperature is above 90°F (food with mayonnaise, eggs, dairy, poultry, seafood, meat).
- Position the grill far away from deck railings and siding, out from under eaves, and overhanging branches. Ensure the grill is a safe distance from other outside activities, including play areas and foot traffic.
- Create a protective space of 3 feet around the grill/fire pit; make it a kid/pet-free zone.
- Always supervise children around open flames.
- Keep all matches and lighters out of reach from children.
- When grilling, be attentive to loose clothing, gas leaks, broken seals, and children at play.
- Keep a bucket of water and a shovel near your camp fire.
**Facts and most tips taken directly from the CDC (2014, 2016) and Safekids.org (2014, 2017).