In the summer months, both parents and kids have more time to relax and have fun. Whether your family enjoys swimming, biking, boating, hiking, camping or a picnic in the park, don't forget the rule of "safety first." Making safety a priority for all your summer fun family activities can help avoid a trip to the emergency room and teach your kids safety skills they'll need for a lifetime.
Here are five tips for parents to help keep kids safe this summer:
Practice water safety when swimming or boating in a pool or lake
It only takes four to six minutes for a child submerged underwater to drown or sustain a permanent brain injury. Be aware of where your kids are in the water at all times. Children who are drowning don't always cry out for help because they are expending all their energy to keep afloat.
Also make sure all kids under your charge know how to swim, stick to the shallow end of the pool, don't swim alone, and kids should always wear a personal floatation device when participating in water sports.
Take steps to prevent sunburn, dehydration and heat stroke
A mere 15 minutes of UV ray exposure can cause sunburn, which may not appear on a kid's skin until hours afterward. Make sure all children (and parents) wear a sunscreen with an SPF 30 or more when outdoors and reapply every two hours. Kids should wear a UVA/UVB sunscreen that uses titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
When you're out in the sun with young ones, avoid heavy or intense activity on days of extreme heat. Any physical activity in high temperatures can lead to dehydration, heat rash, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
On super hot days, make sure kids drink enough water. If you suspect someone has heat exhaustion or heat stroke, dial 911 immediately.
Kids must wear helmets when biking, skateboarding, etc.
Insist that your child wears a helmet when riding anything with wheels, such as bicycle, skateboard, scooter or ATV. The Center for Head Injury Services found that in 85 percent of head injuries caused by bicycle accidents, wearing a helmet could have prevented these injuries. Traumatic brain injuries are the leading cause of death and disability in children and adolescents.
All helmets your kid wears should meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards. Replace any helmet that has been impacted, as it will not be an effective safety measure if a second incident occurs.
Use bug repellents — especially during the summer months
The effects of a bug bite, bug sting or contact with poison ivy are usually pretty minor, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Anyone can have a sudden allergic reaction to a bug bite, and some people can have a severe allergic reaction to bee stings. In some areas, mosquitoes can carry the West Nile virus, which causes serious illness in about one in five people.
When you're at the park, hiking, camping or in your backyard, use bug repellents and be aware of insects who bite. Make sure to use bug repellents that contain DEET and have kids wear long sleeves, pants and shoes when outdoors. Parents should keep an auto-inject EpiPen in their first aid kit in case of allergic reactions. Call 911 if a child suddenly has trouble breathing or there is swelling around a bite or sting.
Check the temperature of playground equipment before kids use it
Even when the temperature doesn't seem that high on a summer day, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has discovered that plastic slides, swings and surfaces can get hot enough to burn a child's skin.
Children under the age of two are most sensitive to burns from playground equipment. Parents should check the temperature of the equipment first before letting kids play on it. Supervise children at all times and watch out for playground equipment with sharp points or edge. When at the playground, children should wear shoes and clothing that won't catch on the jungle gym.