Warm weather, family vacations and three months off. Children love summer and it’s easy to see why. But while summer is exhilarating for children, the season presents a new set of safety challenges for parents.
To keep your children — and your entire family — safe this summer, follow these tips.
1. Be smart about swimming
Drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children ages 1-14. In fact, three children die every single day because of drowning. To protect your children, make sure they are always supervised when around water — no matter the depth — and enroll them in formal swimming lessons as soon as possible. Don’t try to teach them to swim on your own.
In addition to empowering them, you can further protect your children by erecting fences or other barriers to separate your property from a nearby body of water and by learning CPR. That skill may just save your child’s life.
2. Better boating
An afternoon on the family boat can be an enjoyable experience with just a few simple safety precautions. Before leaving the dock, make sure the boat is equipped with life jackets for everyone and that the boat itself is in good working order. Then, while you’re out on the water, treat your boat as you would your car and avoid consuming alcohol if you will be tasked with operating the vehicle to bring your family home.
3. Don’t let the bed bugs (or any other bug) bite
Concerns over Zika, Lyme disease and West Nile virus have turned insects like mosquitoes and wood ticks from a nuisance into a more serious threat. To protect your family, eliminate standing water and long grasses in your yard and apply insect repellent whenever you’re outside. You can also be smart about the timing of when you go outside. Mosquitoes in particular are less active during the daylight hours, so try to keep your nighttime outdoor recreation to a minimum.
4. Safety in the sun
The warm summer sun is a welcome change from the cold of winter, but if you’re not careful, too much time in the sun can create problems all its own. Heat stroke, heat sickness and myriad other heat-related conditions are all a threat during the summer months, and children ages 4 and under are at the greatest risk. Protect your children by dressing them in lightweight, bright clothing and never leave a child — or pet, for that matter — in a parked car, even if the windows have been cracked. If you need places to play outside the home during extreme heat, try your local mall, movie theater or indoor playground.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and make sure your kids get plenty, too. When you work and play in the hot sun, all that water leaving your body in the form of sweat must be replenished. And when you need to cool down, don’t just retreat to the shade (or better yet, air conditioning) — place cooling towels or ice cubes on your neck and wrists to cool down your body quickly.
And when you do plan to spend long periods of time outdoors, try to do so in the early morning or early evening when the sun is not at its peak position. Finally, if your child does begin to show signs of a heat-related illness, seek out medical care immediately.
5. Reducing your family’s injury risk
Injuries are, unfortunately, a part of life, and during the warmer months when travel increases and play becomes more active, the risk of injuries can increase as well. As your children decide to play outside, make sure they are doing so safely by wearing protective gear and checking that the areas where they are playing are safe and well maintained. A quick sweep of the nearby park, for example, can help you identify broken glass and other objects that could be harmful to your children if stepped on or picked up.
Supervising your children whenever possible is the surest way to make sure they stay safe outside, but you don’t have to feel like a security guard. Take part in their play yourself. It’s the best way to ensure everyone has a fun, safe time during these summer months.