Summer Safety Tips

— Written By Brenda Currie and last updated by

As the weather is getting warmer and the days are getting longer, many children want to be outside playing and having fun. Your backyard, the beach or the park is a wonderful place for them to learn; however, we have to think about safety.

When children are playing outside in the sun, the best line of defense to prevent damage to their skin is wearing appropriate clothing and a hat along with the use of a sunscreen that has a SPF of at least 15. Use sunscreen even on cloudy days as sunburn can still occur and avoid being outside in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is at it’s peak of intensity. Encourage lots of water to keep children hydrated when playing outside. Avoid too much physical activity while spending time in the sun as this can cause heat related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Make sure that you know the signs and symptoms of heat disorders and overexposure to the sun and be ready to give first aid as needed.

If you or your child is outside playing and a thunderstorm approaches, go inside. Don’t stay outside and continue to play or work. If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to pose a threat and you could be hit by lightning. Also, stay inside until at least 30 minutes after you have heard the last thunder clap.

Many of us will be spending time near water with our children. Playing in the water can be lots of fun but it can also be dangerous. More than one in five drowning victims are under the age of fifteen. Most incidents of drowning occur when a child falls into a pool or left alone in a bathtub. Remember, children can drown in very small amounts of water.

If you have a pool, never leave your child unattended while they are playing near it or are in the water. Do not use floatation devices as a substitute for your supervision. Make sure that if there is a fence around the pool, the gates are self-closing and self-latching with the latch out of reach of the children. Remove pool covers before using the pool as children can get caught underneath it or try to climb on top of it. Remove steps to above ground pools if they are not being used.

Keep toys away from the pool as young children can fall into the water while playing. Rescue equipment should be by the pool including a phone in case there is an emergency. Also, you don’t want to have to leave children unattended to go inside to answer a phone call.

If you are going to take your child to a public swimming pool make sure a lifeguard is present and they are being very observant to any problems that may arise. On the beaches remember that lifeguards can not watch everyone all the time so be more watchful yourself as your children are playing in the sand or the water. Teach your child how to swim by enrolling them in swimming lessons if you are unable to teach them yourself. If you are involved in boating don’t forget the life jackets. But remember even the best of swimmers can have a problem while they are swimming.

Inspect outdoor play equipment and toys to see if any repairs are needed before allowing children to play on or with them. Metal and plastic toys and playground equipment can get hot enough from the sun to cause burns. Make sure that your child is not able to reach any moving parts that may pinch or trap a body part such as an arm or a leg. Ensure that your child is using the equipment as intended. If your child likes to jump on a trampoline make sure that they are being supervised by a responsible adult and that there is only one person on it at a time.

If your child is wearing loose clothing, clothing with drawstrings or jewelry it can get caught on playground equipment like the swings, slide or merry-go-round. Have your child wear closed toe shoes when playing on the playground.

Children should not have riding toys in the street where they can be hit by a car. Play in fenced-in areas if possible and if a fence-in area is not available, have set limits where children are allowed to play and enforce them when children are playing outside. Teach children that if they do have to go into the street to look both ways. Make sure that if your child is riding a bike they wear a helmet to protect their head from injury. An adult should supervise young children when   riding a bike. Teach children to ride in safe areas and follow bike safety rules. Don’t forget to have older children use protective gear and follow safety rules when they are skateboarding.

Children like to help outdoors but remember that lawn mowers, pruners and other garden tools should not be used by children or be used when children are around. Do not allow children to ride on the lawn mower as a passenger. Children under 12 should not be allowed to use a push mower or under 16 for a riding mower. Keep fertilizers and pesticides locked up and out of the reach of children. Children should be kept away from the areas where they have been used for several days.

To help prevent your child from being bitten by bugs, avoid using scented soaps and dressing them in bright or flowery print clothes. Try to stay away from stagnant pools of water or gardens where flowers are in bloom as insects nest there. If you use insect repellant make sure that you follow all directions and precautions. Use soap and water to wash it off after going back inside the home. Do not use insect repellants that contain DEET on children younger than two months of age.

If you like to have picnics or take food with you when you travel during the summer remember to think food safety. If you are traveling over 30 minutes with perishable foods, place it in a cooler with ice or freezer packs. Perishable foods left out in the heat for more than two hours is not safe with the time frame being reduced to only one hour if the temperature is over 90 degrees F. Eating anything that has been sitting in the hot sun can cause food borne illnesses.

During the summer we often want to celebrate by using fireworks especially around the Fourth of July. Make sure that if you decided to use fireworks and are not attending community organized firework displays that you use extreme caution. Fireworks, including sparklers, can reach high temperatures and can burn both users and bystanders.

Make this summer a fun and safe one by remembering that we, as parents and caregivers, are the most important piece of safety equipment that is available to keep our children safe.

Parents As Teachers is a free and voluntary program that is available to all families with children ages 0-5 who live in Hoke County. Parent educators are available to help you be your child’s first, best and most influential teacher. If you are interested in the Parents As Teachers program, call (910) 875-2000 or stop by the Cooperative Extension office beside Turlington School.

Parents As Teachers is funded by Smart Start and administered by Hoke County Cooperative Extension.