Your kids are ready for summer vacation! Are you?
According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, one out of four kids ages 14 and under will sustain an injury that will require medical attention. A big majority of those injuries happen in the summer holidays, between May and August:
- 40 percent of injury-related emergency room visits
- 42 percent of all injury deaths
Nearly all of these accidents are preventable.
Where will your kids be this summer? In the pool? In the driveway or backyard? (In your hair all day?) They’ll be out in the blazing summer sun, indoors on rainy days. With the extra hours spent at home, and a steady flow of friends coming over, you have to prepare for the extra kid load.
Perhaps you’ll be traveling or taking a vacation. Summer vacation means you’ll have to step up your duties as a parent and create safe boundaries for your children – while maximizing their fun.
- Sun safety
- Pool safety
- Outdoor safety – bites, stings, ticks
- Outdoor safety – bike & playground safety
- Lots of day trips – theme parks, travel and stranger safety
Summer = sun = hot. Keep the kids hydrated! They are more susceptible to the heat than grown-ups. Though sunblock/sunscreen should be an all-year thing, be extra sure to keep skin covered during the summer months. Be extra generous with the stuff – a couple of palmfuls or more.
Try to stay out of direct sunlight during the hottest parts of the day. Heat-related illnesses and sunburn can be a huge summer-vacation bummer.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- Feeling thirsty
- Leg cramps
- Abdominal cramps
Heat exhaustion can quickly progress to heatstroke if symptoms are left untreated.
Heatstroke is serious. It’s not just a matter of “feeling hot” – it’s a potentially dangerous condition that could result in long-term harm. Younger kids who are enjoying playing outside may not even realize that they have a problem – it’s up to you to keep an eye on them and take action before the heat gets to them.
Symptoms of heatstroke include:
- Trouble breathing
- Rapid heartbeat
- Changes in blood pressure
- High body temperatures reaching 104 deg F and higher
- Flushed skin, feeling hot and dry instead of sweaty
Treat these symptoms immediately to reduce the risk of organ damage, including brain damage.
Image courtesy of albertopveiga used under Creative Commons.
Every year, more than 830 kids ages 14 and under die by drowning. Thousands of kids ages 5 and under are injured in near-drowning incidents. It is the leading cause of death for kids ages 1 through 4.
- Teach kids how to swim.
- Learn CPR.
- Install a pool fence.
- Always supervise kids around the pool.
Vigilance and installing a tall, self-latching pool gate can prevent 50 to 90 percent of accidental drowning incidents. Add an extra layer of protection with a pool gate alarm that alerts you when a child wanders in or someone leaves the gate open.
Be extra careful if you have kids of different ages. Teens are usually fine in the pool unsupervised, but they’re not always watching out for younger siblings. They may unthinkingly leave gates open, or may be engrossed in their own activities. Visiting kids may not have the ingrained discipline to keep gates closed. It only takes a few seconds for tragedy to strike.
Outdoor Safety – Bites, Stings, Ticks
Watch out for DEET
Bugs love summer, too. Insect repellents will help keep pests away and reduce mosquito bites that can carry diseases, but watch which products you choose. Bug repellants containing DEET can be toxic to kids.
Never use DEET on infants, and keep DEET concentrations of 30% or more away from kids at all times. Concentrations of 20% and below can be sprayed on clothes, shoes, and exposed skin – not the skin under clothes – but keep it well away from faces and hands.
Instead, the CDC recommends repellants with picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. (For specific product names, here’s a list of six that earned a “recommended” rating from Consumer Reports.)
Outdoor Safety – Playground and Bike Safety
The playground is a staple of childhood. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s social! Let’s not get complacent when we get there – there are more than 200,000 emergency room visits every year from playground-related injuries.
Do a quick check when you get there:
- Make sure equipment isn’t too hot from being in the sun – metal can easily burn young skin
- Check for loose ropes that can accidentally strangle
- Make sure there’s a protective layer on the ground: rubber mats or mulch, soft wood chips – not grass, concrete, or asphalt
Bike riding requires a helmet! Nearly 300,000 bike-related injuries are treated in emergency rooms every year, many involving head and brain injuries. Proper helmets have a CPSC seal (the Consumer Product Safety Commission safety seal).
Theme Parks, Travel And Stranger Safety
Image courtesy of Eric Lumsden used under Creative Commons.
The fun and the chaos of theme parks take on a whole new level during summer vacation. Everyone in the world seems to be there at once! It takes a lot more effort on parents’ parts to keep kids close and safe.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have put together a list of summer safety precautions. Make sure kids know safety in public areas, as well as when they’re home alone. Their twelve top tips can be downloaded at http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/publications/NC82.pdf.
Awesome Kid Safety Products for Summer
Driveways are a favorite playing area for kids. Create a boundary that keeps balls or toys in and drivers out. KidSafe retractable driveway guards are designed for visibility, durability, and easy removal and reinstallation.
Take that extra step to prevent accidents as your pool gets heavy summer usage. Pool gate or door alarms allow adults to pass through without setting the alarm, but if a child opens the gate, the alarm sounds within 7 seconds and stays on until an adult resets the alarm. You will be alerted if a door is left accidentally open for a child to wander through.
An easy-open and portable beach cabana that keeps UV rays out! It also doubles as a fun indoor tent on rainy days.
Have a great summer – stay safe, and don’t let accidents ruin your holiday!