It’s summertime and the living is easy, but that does not mean you can let your guard down when it comes to keeping your children safe. Playtime in the summer creates a host of possible safety issues that you don’t normally think about other times of the year. A little bit of precaution goes a long way. Use this summer safety checklist to make sure your home is safe-summer ready.
Summer is synonymous with swimming. Whether you have your own backyard pool or are within walking distance to a local pool, swimming safety should be at the forefront of every parents’ mind.
Under the age of 5, most child drownings occur in a home pool. If you have a home pool, take every precaution possible to prevent accidental and unmonitored entry into the swimming area. Some of those precautions include perimeter fences around the pool, self-latching gates, pool alarms and pool covers. These should all be checked at the beginning of each season to ensure they are in proper working order.
Regardless of where you take your child swimming, your undivided attention is the best defense against drowning. Never let your toddler get out of arms reach even if they are wearing flotation devices. Often they are not strong enough to right themselves if they get tipped over in the water. Know the signs of drowning and what to do if you see someone in trouble. It is a good idea to take a CPR class, which is easily accessible through your local YMCA or American Red Cross.
Bikes and Blades Safety
Bicycles, roller blades, skateboards and scooters all offer a great way to get much-needed outdoor playtime but these can pose a safety hazard if children are not properly equipped. Thousands of trips are made the hospital each year due to injuries kids sustained riding bikes and other wheeled toys. The most severe injuries causing permanent damage or even death are head injuries.
Helmets are an absolute must for all kids whether they are toddlers or teens. Parents should model good behavior by also wearing a helmet when joining in the fun. Gloves, knee pads and elbow pads provide extra protection from spills while little ones are learning to ride or skate.
Garage and Driveway Safety
Spending time outdoors in the summer means playing in and around the garage and driveway. If you store bikes and outdoor toys in the garage, you will need to child-proof the area. Make sure all harmful chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers are stored well out of reach. All sharp objects like hedge trimmers, saws and screwdrivers should be secured from little hands as well.
Garage doors themselves can pose a hazard if they are not in good repair or don’t have safety mechanisms installed. Avoid garage door injuries or deaths by having your door inspected by a professional and making sure all safety mechanisms are in working order.
If you live in a high-traffic area and your kids will be playing in the driveway, some simple steps can be taken to increase their safety. Portable driveway barriers will keep balls from rolling into the road and bikes from steering into the street. If your neighborhood does not have signs posted warning drivers that children are playing in the area, you can place reflective signs in the yard or driveway.
Sun and Heat Safety
Children won’t want to take time out of playing to reapply sunscreen and hydrate, so parents have to be especially aware of how their kids are faring in the sun and heat. If your child is going to have hours of exposure to the sun, it is best to cover as much of their skin with SPF-protected material as possible.
Lightweight clothing that is breathable but keeps out UV rays, such as rash guards and wide-brimmed hats, will cut down on the amount of sunscreen you’ll need to apply. Skin that is exposed needs to be coated in 30 SPF sunscreen every few hours for maximum protection.
Dehydration can occur quickly and is a serious health hazard. Children should be drinking about 16 ounces of water every two hours while they are engaged in hot and strenuous play. Small bellies won’t be able to take that much water in at once, so hydrate frequently to ensure proper amounts of water are ingested.
If your child doesn’t like plain water, try spiking it with a little bit of juice or sports drink for added flavor. Juice and sports drinks contain a lot of sugar and salt, so stick to using it as a flavoring for water and not for mass consumption.
Don’t let the added risks of summer scare you away from all the fun that can be shared with your children. Simply think ahead and be prepared for the possibilities so that you can spend your days soaking up the sun in a happy and healthy way.