For most kids, summer means freedom and fun. Schools out, the weather is beautiful, and outdoor activities kick off. Fun as these activities are, they inevitably come with some risks. Whether your child will be spending lots of time in the bright sun or splashing around in the water, being aware of the risks and how to manage them is a necessary step of making sure everyone has an enjoyable and memorable summer.
Heat exhaustion can occur more quickly than you might expect when the weather is warm and kids are active. It strikes when the child sweats and doesn’t drink enough water to replace those lost fluids. Watch for heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness or dizziness, nausea, headache, and irritability. If your child exhibits these signs, take them to a cool place, remove excess clothing, push water or fluids containing salt or sugar, and place a cool cloth on their skin. Don’t dry off their sweaty skin, as this is how the body natually cools itself.
Sunburns are a common side effect of summer. Kids are in and out of the water, racing around without a second thought about sun safety. To protect them, apply at least SPF 30 sunscreen every three hours, and encourage them to wear a hat and sunglasses and seek shade often. The sun is at its hottest during midday (about 10 am to 2 pm), so try to avoid outdoor activities during this time.
Bites and stings are commonplace in the summer, but you can take steps to prevent or minimize them. At the first sign of stinging creatures, check eaves, trees, sheds, and under decks for wasp or bee’s nests. When sending kids outside, spray them down with insect repellent, covering exposed skin and clothing. Help prevent ticks by ensuring kids are wearing long sleeves and pants when hiking or playing in the woods. Tuck their cuffs into their socks, and encourage them to stay out of tall grass if possible. At the end of the day, check your child’s whole body for ticks.
Keeping kids hydrated is essential for their health and safety in the sun. Encourage them to drink water often, and avoid sugary beverages. Signs that your child is dehydrated include dark yellow or brown urine, headache, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness. Keep in mind that our bodies don’t feel thirsty until we’re already dehydrated, so opt for regular hydration breaks.
Water safety is essential for summer. Lakes, boats, and pools are hotspots that require a watchful eye and proper equipment. Whether your child is visiting a community pool or just wading in the backyard, supervise them continually. On the open water, children should be wearing a properly-fitted life jacket at all times.
Before heading out for summer vacation, it is important to check that car seats and booster seats are installed correctly. Once on the road, children should never be left unattended in the car, as temperatures can rise quickly, putting small bodies at risk in minutes. At each stop, do a quick check to make sure everyone is out safely.
Bicycles are a very common cause of injury for kids. To keep them safe, they need to wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet every time they ride, and their bike should be the right weight and height for their size. Teach your kids road safety such as riding with the direction of traffic and following road rules.
Playgrounds can be a flurry of action during the summer months. To keep kids from getting hurt, maintain a watchful eye. Encourage your kids to stay aware of others to keep them from getting hit, and teach children not to push or roughhouse on the equipment. This will help prevent falls and injuries. You can also teach them to touch metal slides before going down, to ensure they aren’t too hot.
Hiking comes with various risks depending on the area. Bugs and ticks are often a primary concern, but wildlife can be a danger in some regions. Discuss animal safety prior to the journey. Remind your kids they shouldn’t interact with any wild or stray animals and should watch out for snakes and other living hazards on the path. You can also give them a crash course in plant safety in the region, reminding them to avoid touching plants they don’t recognize. To keep everyone happy and hydrated, be sure to pack snacks and water for the trail.
Lawn Mower and Pesticides
Mowing the lawn is often a necessary task through the summer months, so it’s important that kids know the rules. When mowing, keep small children inside and never let a child ride on the mower. For lawn care, avoid using toxic insect or weed killers. Instead, opt for safe or organic treatments, and keep kids off a treated lawn for at least 48 hours.